UFC president Dana White said early Sunday morning he plans on booking a rematch between Ben Askren and Robbie Lawler following their controversial fight at UFC 235.
Askren made his highly-anticipated debut against Lawler, a former UFC welterweight champion, on the pay-per-view main card. The event took place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Lawler hurt Askren early in the first round with a slam and powerful ground-and-pound, but “Funky” recovered and got Lawler into a submission. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight after he thought “Ruthless” went unconscious, but Lawler seems to have never gone out cold. Askren officially won via first-round submission, although Dean’s stoppage has been heavily contested by fans, media, and Lawler alike.
“We gotta do the rematch on that one,” White told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter after UFC 235. “It’s only fair.”
White said Askren “looked rough” against Lawler.
“It’s tough to come into the UFC for your first fight and shine and look great,” White said. “It’s not easy. I don’t care who you are, who you think you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. This is a tough stage to come onto for the first time.”
White said he doesn’t believe Dean made the right call by stopping the fight when he did. But Askren should get credit for still managing to get out of danger against Lawler and get him into a submission attempt despite the damage he took,” White said.
“I think the ref made a bad decision,” White said. “That takes nothing away from the fact that he was able to get Robbie Lawler down in that position.”
Askren said at the post-fight press conference he is uninterested in a rematch against Lawler, noting he did not want to fight Lawler — one of his favorite fighters — in the first place.
“The rematch should be great,” White said.