Long-time friends and teammates Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren were fighting in the same card for the first time at UFC 235 on Saturday night. Askren won his debut against Robbie Lawler, while Woodley dropped the title to Kamaru Usman via a unanimous decision loss.
“Funky” witnessed the entire 25 minutes of his teammate being badly beaten and dominated by Usman from backstage. During his post-fight scrum, Askren revealed he would’ve been part of Woodley’s corner that night, if not for the UFC’s refusal to let him do so.
“I was really disappointed with the UFC staff,” Askren told media members (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I thought I had it cleared on Tuesday that as soon as I got done with my fight, that I would go out to the cage [to corner Woodley]. They said no problem. And then I tried going out there and they stopped me.
“They wouldn’t even let me go in the arena, and I was really disappointed by that. I mean, if you don’t want to let me in the corner, fine, but find an effing seat for me somewhere a couple rows back where I can watch one of my best friends perform.
“I was really disappointed by that fact because I thought the issue was handled ahead of time and I didn’t foresee that becoming an issue, so I rushed back, I skipped stitches so I could go out there with them, and then they stopped me. And I really didn’t like that.”
Having known Woodley for many years, Askren feels he would’ve made some difference if he was present at cage side, coaching the now former 170-pound champion.
“You never know. I coach a lot of kids, right? My brother and I own three wrestling academies and you just never know — sometimes it’s not always me, but what someone’s going to say that’s going to make something click,” he said.
“Tyron’s main weakness, which, it showed tonight, is his need for perfection. Right? He kept looking for that perfect punch, that perfect punch, and Marty just kept pressing forward and pressing forward, and the perfect punch didn’t come. But at some point you’ve just got to let it go.
“So I know if I’m in the corner, that’s what I’m going to say: ‘Tyron, let your hands go, punch him in the face. It’s not that hard, hit him.’ And that’s what I would’ve been saying to him over and over and over again.
“Would that have made a difference? I’m not sure, but I would’ve liked to have that opportunity,” he continued. “And like I said, I felt like I did my due diligence earlier in the week to take care of it, and I guess next time I’ll be more prepared.”
As for Askren, he already made it clear that he no longer wants another fight with Robbie Lawler, despite the UFC’s plans to make it happen. He is currently more focused on facing the winner of UFC London’s headliner fight between Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal.