Ben Askren was victorious in his UFC debut. Unfortunately, his win was shadowed in controversy.
After being slammed on his head and pulverized by an early salvo of Lawler ground-and-pound, Askren was able to turn the tide, and drag his foe to the mat. Once on the canvas, he locked up a bulldog choke that seemed to turn the lights out on the former UFC welterweight champion.
Unfortunately, the immediate replay revealed that Lawler still appeared to be concious. In other words, the referee made a very controversial call and ended the fight prematurely.
Given this controversy, UFC President Dana White has suggested that there will probably be a rematch between Ben Askren and Robbie Lawler.
“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.
“We gotta do the rematch on that one,” he added. “It’s only fair.
“The rematch should be great.”
Surprisingly, however, neither Ben Askren nor Robbie Lawler seem particularly interested in a do-over.
“I pass,” Askren said at the UFC 235 post-fight press conference (transcript via Forbes). “I guess we’ll have that discussion. I would like to fight the winner of [Darren] Till vs. [Jorge] 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.”
Robbie Lawler seemed slightly more open to the idea — though the notoriously placid welterweight certainly wasn’t demanding a rematch.
“Shit happens in there,” Lawler said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “Sometimes there’s mistakes being made. Herb checked on me and when he checked on me I gave him a thumbs up and he came in there. I couldn’t hear him talking because of how the choke was on. My head was on [Askren’s] body on this side and his arm was over here, so I couldn’t hear him talking. And I’m not gonna just dangle a hand there, so I just put it down and when he checked I gave him the thumbs up and looked right at him I was like, ‘Hey man. F*ck. I’m good.’
“It happens. He’s a hell of a ref, he just made mistake.”
“You know I don’t make excuses,” he concluded. “I just kind of roll with the punches and try to be positive about the whole situation. I’d like to run it back. It is what it is. I just don’t like making excuses even if shit doesn’t — if stuff like that happens, whatever.”
Do you want to see a rematch between Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/3/2019.