Former Bellator and ONE champion Ben Askren made a successful Octagon debut Saturday night at UFC 235, submitting Robbie Lawler. The victory, though, left many questioning the end result in Las Vegas.
Askren took one of the worst beatings of his career, landing on his head after a suplex by Lawler that was followed by several strikes on the ground. Askren, though, recovered and worked a bulldog choke that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the bout in the first round.
Lawler immediately protested the decision, stating that he wasn't out from the choke attempt and could continue. Nevertheless, the bout was over and Askren was declared the champion.
"I feel great," Askren said afterwards (thanks to MMA Fighting for the quotes). "I watched the video. I saw the arm go limp. I know he was trying to relax himself, but I don't know any conscious person that just goes (limp). It just doesn't happen."
UFC president Dana White, who was very outspoken against even bringing Askren to the UFC for years, said that a rematch could be possible between the two. However, Askren declined, stating "I pass" and saying he planned to attend an upcoming event to see Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal square off.
"We gotta do the rematch," White said. "It's only fair. (Askren) battled some adversity. I think the ref made a made decision. The rematch should be great."
Dana White on Ben Askren's "rough" debut and on re-booking Askren vs. Robbie Lawler pic.twitter.com/OSxa0j9oeg— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) March 3, 2019