On Saturday night at UFC 235, Ben Askren was finally making his highly-anticipated UFC debut. The former ONE Championship and Bellator champion was set to take on Robbie Lawler in his debut.
There was no question this would be a tough fight for Askren. He is a world-class wrestler, but Lawler can knock anybody out and has good takedown defense. Lawler showed that early in which he stuffed a takedown and slammed Askren on his head. That appeared to hurt the undefeated fighter, to then Lawler having serious ground and pound where the fight was close to being stopped.
However, Askren rallied back and got up and got ahold of Lawler’s back. There he started to work away on a bulldog choke. There, it appeared Lawler’s arm went limp and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight, but Lawler got up right away in which he said he was never out. But, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission director, Bob Bennett, the stoppage was fine.
“With the Nevada State Athletic Commission, our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of the fighter,” Bennett said at the post-fight press conference. “In our pre-(fight briefings), I specifically instruct the referees that we stop the fights one punch or one kick sooner (rather) than later in the interest in the health and safety of the fighter.
“Robbie is a phenomenal warrior. He’s been in the business for quite some time. He was clearly out … and Herb decided to pull the plug and say he was submitted. … Robbie jumped right up and said, ‘Hey, what the (expletive), man? I was good,’ or words to that effect, and he and Herb had a conversation. Kudos to Robbie, because he was a consummate professional. (He) talked to Herb afterward, came to whatever understanding they did, congratulated the opponent, and that was the end of the fight. I can tell you right now as the executive director, and on behalf of the commission, none of us had a problem with that.”