Ben Askren has his first UFC win but after a controversial end to his fight against Robbie Lawler on Saturday night he might be staring at a rematch.
The fight ended after a wild opening round that saw Lawler turn the tables on Askren by hoisting him in the air and then dropping the 2008 Olympian on his head during the opening exchange. Lawler then pounced on Askren with a barrage of punches that nearly brought an end to the fight.
Askren survived and then came back with a bulldog choke of his own while he had Lawler against the cage. Lawler’s hand dropped while Askren had the submission applied and referee Herb Dean rushed into stop the contest.
Upon replay, Lawler’s hand did hit the canvas but then it immediately raised again to give a thumb’s up to tell the referee he was OK to continue but a split second later the fight was stopped.
Afterwards, UFC president Dana White expressed his displeasure with the way the fight ended.
“Bad stoppage,” White said at the UFC 235 post fight press conference. “We had a debate, me, the referee and the commission over being choked out. I’ve been choked out many times before, too, and one of the things you don’t do is jump right up and say ‘what the f—k did you just do’. It never happens that way.
“That was a bad stoppage. It happens. What are you going to do? It sucks. It was a good fight.”
Because of the controversial ending, White would like to book Askren against Lawler again, sooner rather than later.
“We want to do the fight again,” White said. “We’ll figure it out.”
For his part, Askren wasn’t all that excited about potentially running it back with Lawler, regardless of how White or anybody else felt about the stoppage.
Askren would prefer to face the winner of the upcoming main event from London where Darren Till takes on Jorge Masvidal.
“I pass,” Askren said about facing Lawler again. “We’ll have that discussion. Like I said, I’d like to fight the winner of [Darren] Till-[Jorge] Masvidal, I think that makes a whole lot of sense as far as the division’s concerned.
“I didn’t really want to fight Robbie in the first place. I didn’t like that matchup. I told them yes the first time without hesitation. First time they proposed it, I said OK let’s go. Did that.”