Ben Askren vs. Robbie Lawler in the works for UFC 233 in Anaheim
After the organization orchestrated a “trade” for former Bellator and ONE Championship titleholder Askren (18-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) to join the company, his debut is slated for January against former UFC champ Lawler (28-12 MMA, 13-6 UFC).
MMAjunkie verified with a person close to the situation that the fight is close to finalized after UFC President Dana White informed ESPN.com of the news. The person requested anonymity because the UFC has yet to make an official announcement.
Askren chimed in on social media after the news broke (via Twitter):
Lots of welterweights breathing easy right about now. Don’t worry your times will come!
UFC 233 takes place Jan. 26 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims expected for ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.
Askren, 34, made a sudden and surprising move to the UFC this past month when he was involved in a “trade” for former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. He took no time calling out essentially every 170-pound fighter on the roster, but the undefeated fighter named Colby Covington, Darren Till and Georges St-Pierre as his most desired opponents.
Instead, though, Askren draws Lawler, who is No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings. “Ruthless,” 36, hasn’t competed since UFC on FOX 26 in December where he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Rafael dos Anjos. Lawler suffered an ACL tear in the fight and will return from a 13-month layoff for the clash with Askren.