Ben Askren is ready to prove he’s one of the best welterweights on the planet when he makes his Octagon debut at UFC 233 but he’s admittedly a little let down with his choice of opponents.
The former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion will face Robbie Lawler on Jan. 26 in Anaheim as part of the first UFC pay-per-view card of 2019.
Now Lawler is an ex-UFC champion with a resume of past opponents that rivals the greatest fighters in the history of the sport so Askren isn’t bummed out about the level of opponent he’s facing.
Instead, Askren says the problem is he actually really likes Lawler as a fighter and as a person and he enjoys a little pre-fight trash talk to get the blood pumping.
“In a certain sense, it’s kind of disappointing because there’s all these people I don’t like and I want to talk smack about, it’s easy to talk smack about them. Then they go and give me someone that I liked, that I think is a really nice guy,” Askren said on his Rudis wrestling podcast. “I don’t really want to talk smack about him. He’s just a nice guy.”
In terms of level of competition, Lawler fits perfectly into the top five ranked opponent UFC president Dana White promised Askren when he signed the former Olympic wrestler to a new contract just recently.
Askren has long been regarded as one of the best fighters in the world at 170 pounds but unfortunately he never had the opportunity to prove it in the UFC.
Now that chance is finally here and while Askren might be slightly upset that he won’t be able to talk trash about Lawler the way he surely would have for a fight against fellow welterweight contender Darren Till, he’s perfectly fine with the matchup.
“It’s a start,” Askren said about fighting Lawler. “He’s a former UFC champion obviously. His last fight was a loss so he’s not on a high streak right now and he’s coming off an injury but either way it should be a good test. He does have a wrestling background. I believe if I heard right, he was a two time high school state place winner in Iowa but then for him, he went directly into fighting.
“I mean this guy is just a couple of years older than me and if I remember right, he was fighting while I was still wrestling in high school.”
Lawler may not present the kind of opponent that Askren can verbally assault ahead of the fight but he’ll definitely get his full attention when it comes to preparation.
Askren knows after he beats Lawler, he’ll be on the path towards the top of the division and that’s going to give him plenty of chances to fight welterweights he will gladly engage in verbal warfare ahead of the contest.
“It’s a fight I’m looking forward to,” Askren said. “I wish I could have got someone who I genuinely didn’t like and wanted to talk trash about but I’m sure that will happen soon enough.”
What are your thoughts on the Ben Askren vs. Robbie Lawler fight at UFC 233? Sound off in the comments and let us know!