An in-depth look at Robbie Lawler vs. Ben Askren

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is exactly what it says on the tin; the greatest martial artists on the planet competing against each other under one promotion.

As fans we’re somewhat spoilt constantly getting to watch the best possible matchups; so, when we see a fighter, whom experts deem to be one of the greatest fighters on the planet, competing in a separate organisation, we can’t help but wonder how he’d do in the world’s best promotion.
In this case, the fighter in question is ‘Funky’ Ben Askren. After years of very public disputes with UFC president Dana White, a deal was finally put together in a historic trade with One Championship where pound for pound star Demetrious Johnson was exchanged for Askren.

At UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada fans will finally get to see the Funky One test his skills at the highest possible level. A man who certainly knows how to sell himself on the mic as well as on social media, he has developed a huge profile since signing with the UFC. But talking aside, what actually makes this man so special in the cage?

Askren has an extremely impressive wrestling/grappling background, picking up gold medals at the Pan American Championships, United state championships and world championships. He also competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

A year later Askren would transition to the sport of MMA and after amassing a 3-0 record he signed for Bellator. He would kick his time off in the promotion during their season 2 welterweight tournament which he won. In his following matchup, he would take on Lyman Good for the Bellator championship and, despite facing some adversity in the form of a vicious up kick and narrowly avoiding a triangle choke, he still managed to secure takedowns which ultimately won him the world title.

He would then defend the Bellator championship four times, most notoriously against Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov. In 2013, following a failed negotiation period, Askren was released from the organisation. It was then announced that Askren had signed with Asian based promotion One Championship and, in just his second fight, he beat Nobutatsu Suzuki for their world title.

After successfully retaining the belt on multiple occasions and following a knock out win over Shinya Aoki, Askren would retire from the sport. Although leaving the door slightly ajar for a return, fans feared we’d never actually know for sure just how good Askren is. However, to the joy of all hardcore fans, the UFC and Askren finally delivered and on Saturday night we get to find out.

With all the hype surrounding the debut of this exciting talent, it can’t remain unsaid that the man who will be standing across the octagon from him poses a very serious threat. ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler is a former world champion, with great takedown defence and punching power alongside being involved in some of the most enthralling fights in history.

“Ruthless is a real veteran of the sport. After making his UFC debut all the way back at UFC 37, he left the company in 2004 and would have spells at various organisations including Strikeforce where he fought for the world title against Jacare Souza.

It was nine years” later he would rejoin with the UFC and after going on a three-fight winning streak against Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voelker and Rory MacDonald, Lawler had earned himself a world title shot. He was defeated for the vacant world title by Johny Hendricks via unanimous decision. After winning two fights back to back he was given another shot at Hendricks and this time would come away with the victory and a world title.

In his two successful defences of the title, he would give us two of the most dramatic wars we’ve ever seen in a terrific rematch against Rory MacDonald and a fight which will live long in the memory with Carlos Condit. He would then lose his title against Tyron Woodley but regardless he still poses lots of challenges for the newcomer.

So many questions will be answered at UFC 235 about the level of ability Ben Askren possesses. If he’s what we believe him to be, this weekend we may see the birth of a superstar but if there are any holes in his game then the veteran Robbie Lawler may expose them. It’s most definitely an intriguing one, and all questions will be answered on Saturday night.

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