Ben Askren Is Ready For His UFC Debut
Welterweight Ben Askren is set to make his much-awaited UFC debut at UFC 235, March 2nd, and he’s ready and raring to go. Signed by the UFC in a historic trade from ONE Championship, Askren will face off against former welterweight title holder Robbie Lawler.
Askren, a former welterweight champ in Bellator and ONE Championship, is unbeaten in his career. He has, however, been inactive since November 2017 when he retired after successfully defending his ONE Championship belt with a first-round TKO of Shinya Aoki. The 34-year-old Wisconsin native, though, seems undaunted by the lay-off, even volunteering to fight someone else to be part of UFC 233 last January. But the UFC would have none of it, choosing to push through instead with Askren vs. Lawler at UFC 235.
So yes, best believe that Askren is ready for his UFC debut this March, with the fighter pointing out that he is physically ready for this match. “I’ve taken good care of myself, never really had any major injuries, no drinking, no drugs or PEDs, so my body has held up well over time,” said Askren. “I was going to do a big wrestling tournament in December to stay in shape and do something to challenge myself, so I had started training for that a little bit. Everything feels really good, I’m excited.”
Askren better be ready because his opponent, Lawler, is well-prepared. As reported here on Full Contact Fighter, Lawler is deep in training for Askren and his high-level wrestling. “My wrestling is all right. I train with a lot of wrestlers, and my coaches are doing a great job with me,” Lawler said, before stating that his striking — his strong suit— has been “getting better.”
This fight figures to be a crossroads fight for both fighters as it has big-picture implications. A win for Askren almost assures him of a shot at the UFC welterweight gold, although, he has said he will not fight his friend and current champ, Tyron Woodley. A win for Lawler, on the other hand, will mean a step closer back to championship contention. But all signs point to a victorious debut for Askren, who is the fresher fighter of the two, having been able to avoid the type of brutal punishment Lawler has absorbed throughout his career.
One hurdle that Lawler is also fighting is a surgically repaired ACL; an injury that UFC president Dana White confirmed in a Yahoo! Sports interview a few days after Lawler’s fight against Rafael Dos Anjos. This injury put Lawler on the shelf for all of 2018, and that means both he and Askren will have missed over a year of competing. However, Askren has the kind of all-around acumen that could outmatch Lawler’s hunt-you-down stand-up style. He is also carrying an 18-fight unbeaten streak, while Lawler has lost 2 of his last 3 fights, including a brutal one-round knockout loss to the current champ Woodley. Those are reasons enough for bwin to install Askren as the top pick to win this important fight, which is likely to play a big part in charting the course of the welterweight division. So, expect fireworks from two of the best welterweights in the world.
UFC 235 will take place at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2. It will be headlined by two championship fights — Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith for the light heavyweight title and Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman for the welterweight gold. The Askren-Lawler fight is one of the undercards of this stacked pay-per-view.