Despite Ben Askren’s belief that UFC president Dana White doesn’t like him much, it turns out that the 2008 Olympian has been a welcome addition to the roster.
After trading Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship in exchange for Askren in a blockbuster deal last year, White says Askren has jumped right into the deep end of the welterweight division and there has been a lot of interest in him thus far.
“Askren has been fun,” White told Yahoo! Sports this week. “This guy’s smart, he’s funny, he likes to mix it up with everybody in a fun way, too. So it’s been good. I’m glad he’s here.
“Timing is everything in life and this was the perfect time for Ben Askren to be in the UFC.”
Now as happy as White is with Askren being part of the UFC roster, that doesn’t mean the former Bellator and ONE Champion is going to get to pick his own fights.
As much as Askren has talked about facing fighters such Jorge Masvidal or Leon Edwards after this past weekend’s card in London, White says those aren’t the matchups he’s looking to make.
“I’m trying to make the [Robbie] Lawler rematch,” White revealed. “First of all, that fight was awesome, it was fun, it was controversial but it’s the fight to make right now.”
Askren defeated Lawler at UFC 235 with a first round bulldog choke that came after the start of the fight where he was dumped on his head and blasted with a huge barrage of punches from the former welterweight champion.
Askren staged an incredible comeback to lock on the bulldog choke but just after referee Herb Dean stopped the fight, Lawler popped up and protested the finish because he never tapped and was never fully unconscious from the submission.
In the aftermath, Askren has disagreed that the fight was stopped prematurely but White says because of the controversial ending, he wants the rematch with Lawler to happen.
“Robbie Lawler said the choke was around his ears,” White explained. “So when the ref’s talking to me, his arms are wrapped around my ears, how am I supposed to respond? I gave him the thumbs up. How about the fight (Claudio Silva vs. Danny Roberts) the other night in England that got stopped?
“It’s terrible when that happens. That’s the fight we want to make.”