Askren, Zhang victorious at UFC 235
Ben Askren remains undefeated but his UFC debut was highly controversial. It was also extremely entertaining with the former ONE Championship welterweight champion very nearly stopped in the first 30 seconds.
Askren attempted an early takedown at UFC 235 only for Robbie Lawler to pick him up and slam him into the canvass. The impact stunned the undefeated welterweight and his opponent proceeded to attack with a barrage of punches and elbows.
Askren was badly hurt and bleeding heavily, but with the referee taking a very close look at the action, he was able to grab hold of a leg and work his way up. Lawler was in the ascendancy and landed several hard knees to the body as the former Bellator welterweight champion looked for a takedown.
Askren finally trapped him against the cage and worked for a double leg. Lawler was able to defend the takedown initially but the two time NCAA Division One champion eventually put him on his back.
Lawler briefly gave up his back while trying to escape but quickly twisted out, only to find himself trapped in a bulldog choke. It looked tight and when the UFC veteran’s hand dropped to the canvass everyone, including referee Herb Dean, thought he was unconscious.
Dean stopped the fight only to discover that Lawler was wide awake and extremely unhappy. The referee was widely criticized but this will go down as a submission win for Askren on his UFC debut.
He improves to 19-0-0-1 but while the result itself was impressive the debate about where Askren stands in the welterweight hierarchy will only intensify after the controversial finish.
Former UFC 170lbs champion Lawler drops to 28-13-0-1 but could well be awarded an immediate rematch given the debatable nature of the finish. It was unfortunate because, despite lasting just three minutes and 22 seconds, this fight produced some fantastic back and forth action.
Also on the main card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was Weili Zhang. The Chinese strawweight registered the biggest won of her career against #7 ranked Tecia Torres.
It was a very even contest but Zhang was the busier of the two fighters. She attacked with spinning back kicks in the opening round and while there wasn’t much to choose between them in striking terms the Chinese strawweight landed with more frequency.
In the second stanza Zhang scored a takedown but Torres reversed the position and landed an elbow right on the bell. The third round belonged to the Chinese fighter who was able to take her opponent down and keep her down.
The scorecards read 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in favour of Zhang who improves to 19-1 and looks set to enter the top ten in the UFC strawweight rankings for the first time. Torres drops to 10-4.