On Saturday night, on the main card of UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada, former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight king Ben Askren finally made his UFC debut. The undefeated wrestler was matched up with former UFC welterweight champ Robbie Lawler — and the fight nearly ended in disaster for him.
Seconds into the first round, Askren shot in for a takedown. Lawler denied this attempt, hoisted Askren into the air, and whacked him back down to the canvas like he was trying to get a glob of peanut butter off a spoon.
Askren, visibly dazed by this shocking slam, then absorbed enough ground and pound that it looked as though veteran referee Herb Dean was seconds away from stopping the fight.
Against all odds, however, Ben Askren gradually recovered and turned the tide. Before the first round had ended, he had Lawler snagged in a bulldog choke, which he used to lull the former champ unconcious.
At least, that’s how it looked.
While it certainly appeared as though Robbie Lawler had gone unconcious, a glance at the instant replay revealed that he was still in the fight. In an instant, Askren’s incredible comeback win devolved into a very controversial moment.
Speaking after the event, UFC President Dana White addressed the controversial stoppage in this Ben Askren vs. Robbie Lawler fight. In a rather unsurprising twist, he doesn’t seem happy about it.
“I think the ref made a bad decision,” White told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter post-fight (transcript via Bloody Elbow). “That takes nothing away from the fact that he was able to get Robbie Lawler down in that position.
White continued, explaining that he hopes to book a rematch between the two stars.
“We gotta do the rematch on that one,” White said. “It’s only fair.”
“The rematch should be great.”
Whatever the case, he doesn’t seem too impressed with Askren’s debut performance, claiming the former ONE and Bellator champ looked “rough.”
“It’s tough to come into the UFC for your first fight and shine and look great,” White said. “It’s not easy. I don’t care who you are, who you think you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. This is a tough stage to come onto for the first time.”
Do you want to see an immediate rematch between Ben Askren and Robbie Lawler?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/3/2019.