Report | Two huge welterweight contender bouts in the works for early 2019

Ben Askren

From the sounds of it, the first quarter of 2019 is going to be a busy stretch for the UFC welterweight division. According to BJPENN.COM’s Chris Taylor, the UFC is currently working on a pair of huge welterweight matchups for the New Year. The first is expected to pit former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler against two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. The second will see former ONE and Bellator welterweight kingpin Ben Askren make his Octagon debut opposite recent title challenger Darren Till.

“This just in! Per multiple sources close to the situation, the UFC is targeting the following two welterweight bouts for early 2019: Stephen Thompson vs Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren vs Darren Till,” Taylor reported on Twitter. “Neither fight has been officially signed but that is the intention.”

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson last fought in May, when he gave up a decision to Darren Till. In his next most recent bout, he defeated Jorge Masvidal by decision. The karate specialist is an impressive 14-3-1 overall.

His expected upcoming opponent Robbie Lawler, meanwhile, is 28-12 overall. He has not fought since December of 2017, when he gave up a decision to Rafael dos Anjos. This loss was preceded by a decision defeat of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and a knockout loss to Tyron Woodley, which marked the end of his reign as UFC welterweight king.

Darren Till last fought in September, when he was submitted by Woodley in his long-awaited welterweight title shot. This was Till’s first loss as a pro mixed martial artist. Highlights of his undefeated run include defeats of Thompson and Cerrone. He’s 17-1-1 overall.

Ben Askren, finally, is a flawless 18-0 overall. He last fought in November of 2017, when he scored a TKO win over Shinya Aoki in a superfight that was supposed to serve as the last bout of his career. With this win, he improved to 6-0 in ONE Championship, building on a legendary run as Bellator’s welterweight champion. Over the course of his career, he’s defeated names like Aoki, Zebaztian Kadestam, Andrey Koreshkov, Douglas Lima, Jay Hieron and Lyman Good.

What do you think of these planned welterweight matchups?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/4/2018.