Ben Askren was set to make his highly-anticipated UFC debut last night at UFC 235 where he was set to take on the former champion, Robbie Lawler. Askren immeditaely shot for a takedown in which Lawler had good takedown defense and then slammed him, where it appeared Askren landed on his head. There, Lawler landed several punches which looked like Askren could be going out any punch.
However, Askren stayed in there and then got ahold of Lawler’s back and started to work on a bulldog choke. Lawler was defending nicely until he arm appeared to go limp in which referee Herb Dean stopped the fight. Lawler imemdiately got up saying he was never out.
In most cases, a rematch seems almost certain, but Askren isn’t one who wants to run it back with Lawler.
“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. 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.”
Although Askren doesn’t want to run it back, count Lawler and UFC President Dana White as two people who would like to see 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.”
Why White wants a rematch is the fact that neither Askren or Lawler one or lost the fight.
“I think the ref made a bad decision,” White told TSN. (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.”