In one of the most highly anticipated promotional debuts in recent years, Ben Askren finally made his first appearance in the Octagon tonight, facing off against former UFC Welterweight Champion, Robbie Lawler. Askren’s career up until tonight had seen him become one of the most successful fighters to have never graced the UFC Octagon.After a hugely successful career in collegiate wrestling, Askren qualified for the 2008 US Olympic team for freestyle wrestling.
After being disappointed to have left Beijing without a medal, Askren turned his attention to MMA, racking up a record of 3-0 before signing with Bellator.Askren’s mat based wrestling style would prove to be perfect for MMA, and he would win the Bellator Welterweight Championship in just his seventh professional fight. He would then defend the belt a record four times, including dominant victories over the likes of Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov before leaving Bellator to sign with ONE.
The American would enjoy similar success in the Singapore based promotion, before retiring with the ONE Welterweight Championship in 2017 citing a lack of competition.The window for the Funky One to make his mark on the UFC seemed to have passed until November of last year when it was announced that a landmark trade deal would see Askren finally join the UFC roster, with pound-for-pound great, and former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson heading the other way.Askren has also been known for his long-running feud with UFC president Dana White. The pair have gone back and forth on social media in the past, with White saying that Askren is the most boring fighter in the history of the sport of MMA, while Askren has also had some choice words in the past for his new boss.
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) February 14, 2014
In recent times Askren and White appear to have gotten on the same page, however. At yesterday’s ceremonial weigh-ins, Askren jokingly squared off with his new employer, eliciting a lighthearted response from the UFC president. Perhaps the memories of their feud are what encouraged White to match Askren up with Robbie Lawler. Lawler has earned veteran status in MMA, with a career dating all the back to 2001. However, the best stretch of Lawler’s career came after he was already a 33 fight MMA veteran. Winning the UFC Welterweight Title from Johnny Hendricks, Lawler showed ungodly power and finishing instincts during his run with the title between 2014 and 2016.