UFC 235, which took place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, last night (Sat., March 2, 2019) featured a simultaneously amazing and disappointing fight between former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler and new UFC arrival Ben Askren. Lawler mauled Askren for the first two minutes of the bout, only to end up in a bulldog choke that prompted the referee to step in and stop the fight, thinking “Ruthless” was unconscious (watch highlights here).
Lawler got to his feet immediately to protest the stoppage and explained what happened from his point of view at the post-fight press conference.
”Herb checked on me,” he said. “I gave him the thumbs up and then he came in there. I couldn’t hear him talking because of how the choke was on. My head was on his body on this side and his arm was over [my ear]. So I couldn’t hear him talking and I’m not just going to dangle a hand there.”
“So I just put it down and then when he checked I gave him the thumbs up and yeah. I looked right at him and was like ‘Hey man, f**k. I’m good!’ I mean ... it happens. He’s a hell of a ref. He just made a mistake. Stuff happens in life. People make mistakes and I’m not one to whine about shit.”
Fortunately for Lawler, UFC President Dana White made it clear he agrees with that assessment of the finish and wants to run the fight back with an immediate rematch.
”Bad stoppage,” White declared at the press conference. “And we had a debate, me, the ref, and the commission, about being choked out. I’ve been choked out many times before, too, and one of the things you don’t do is jump right up and say ‘What the f**k did you just do?’ It just never happens that way. That was a bad stoppage, it happens. What are you gonna do? Sucks. It was a good fight.”
Dana White on Ben Askren's "rough" debut and on re-booking Askren vs. Robbie Lawler pic.twitter.com/OSxa0j9oeg— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) March 3, 2019
”We gotta do the rematch on that one, it’s only fair,” White told TSN’s Aaron Bronster. “[Ben] looked rough. It’s tough to come into UFC for your first fight and shine and look great. It’s not easy, I don’t care who you are, who you think you are, or where you’ve been or what you’ve done. This is a tough stage to come onto for the first time. He battled some adversity. I think the ref made a bad decision, but that takes nothing away from the fact that he was able to get Robbie Lawler down in that position. So the rematch should be great.”
If UFC can make it happen. Unsurprisingly, Askren doesn’t sound eager to get back in the cage with Lawler, who dropped him on his head and bloodied him badly with ground-and-pound before getting caught in a bad position.
“I pass,” Askren said when asked about the rematch at the post-fight press conference. “I guess we’ll have that discussion. I would like to fight the winner of Till vs. Masvidal, I think that makes a whole lot of sense where the division is concerned. I didn’t really want to fight Robbie in the first place. The first matchup they offered I said yes. I did that.”
It may be hard for him to convince fans and UFC to accept the win as valid and let him move on and upward in the Welterweight rankings. What do you think, Maniacs? Do you want to see Askren thrown back in the meat grinder against Robbie Lawler?
For complete UFC 235: “Jones vs. Smith” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.