Ben Askren has talked a big game since inking a deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The undefeated welterweight and former ONE Championship and Bellator champion will get a chance to make good on his career trajectory predictions — but he hasn’t been handed an easy task in his first UFC, where he will face former 170-pound champ Robbie Lawler at UFC 233 in Anaheim towards the end of January.
News was made official by the UFC social media team, elaborating on an initial report by ESPN.
“I’ve got nothing bad to say about (Robbie Lawler). What am I gonna say? So, I’m excited to fight him because he’s good, and that’s about it.” – @BenAskren on his UFC debut against Robbie Lawler at #UFC233. https://t.co/5CAzIEDnA2 pic.twitter.com/4MhUv9T1TH
— UFC News (@UFCNews) November 28, 2018
Askren (18-0-1) was a member of the 2008 US Olympic team (along with Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo) and was one half of the groundbreaking trade which saw ONE and the UFC swap commodities. Demetrious Johnson, one of the sport’s top pound for pound fighters, went in the other direction.
However, Askren’s route to the title is a tricky one as the belt is currently being held by Tyron Woodley, a close friend and training partner. He has said that as long as Woodley holds the belt, he will not be coming for it. First things first, however, and that will be a fight with the hard-hitting veteran Lawler.
Lawler hasn’t competed in the cage since a loss last December to Rafael Dos Anjos but prior to that he defeated Donald Cerrone. Lawler lost the UFC’s 170-pound title to Woodley more than two years ago and a win against Askren would be one hell of a statement as he plots his route back to the top.
UFC 233 takes place in Anaheim, California on January 26 and is expected to be headlined by TJ Dillashaw vs. Henry Cejudo.