Ben Askren is under no impressions about the reason why he is facing Robbie Lawler in his UFC debut next January at UFC 233.
Dana White and Askren have a long and turbulent history, something that made it an even greater shock when the promotion decided to finally sign the undefeated wrestler last month.
The question of whether he would be able to replicate his success in the UFC has been one of the sport’s burning ‘what ifs’ over the years and while there was an undeniable appeal in seeing him finally get his shot – it did seem as though his relationship with the UFC president was too far gone to make it happen.
— Dana White (@danawhite) April 16, 2012
Now, with a fight against Robbie Lawler reportedly set for UFC 233 – Askren spoke to ESPN and suggested that the UFC would rather he lost out in his debut to prove a point.
“He’s probably the guy in the top five with the best opportunity to beat me. He has pretty good wrestling and he’s obviously a heavy striker. If you want someone to beat me, that’s probably the best you’ll find.”
“It’s obvious. They don’t want me to win. [Dana White] will deny it, but he should just come out and say, ‘I don’t like Ben Askren. I think he’s a jackass, and I want to see him get beat up.’
“That’d be cool, and I would take no offense to that whatsoever.”
For all of the ferocity he unloads every time he steps into the octagon, Robbie is known as one of the nicest guys you will ever meet outside of fighting.
And while Askren appreciates the test he will be offered by the former-champion, he does admit that a matchup against someone he actually dislikes would have suited him better – citing an urge to unload some of his patented trash-talk as he finally gets his opportunity on the big stage.
“There are a bunch of guys I genuinely dislike that I could have fought. I actually kinda like Robbie Lawler. I would have preferred someone I don’t like, because it would have been so much more fun.”
“I think it will be all right, though. It may take away my ability to talk trash, because it would be fake. But Robbie is a former UFC champion, he’s really tough.
“I don’t feel the UFC did it wrong at all. I feel it’s a good matchup on a good card, the first pay-per-view in the ESPN era, if you will. I was really happy to be put on this card.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena