Ben Askren finally made his UFC debut, and it came with quite a large amount of controversy.
Askren fought former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler on the UFC 235 pay-per-view (PPV) main card. Right out the gate, Lawler looked like he was going to give Askren a brutal welcoming. He slammed “Funky” to the mat hard before busting him open on the ground. However, Askren got to his feet, established dominant position on the ground, and sunk in a bulldog choke.
In real-time, it looked like Lawler’s arm went limp and he was rendered unconscious. Referee Herb Dean stepped in and waved the action off. However, Lawler immediately shot up to his feet and began protesting the stoppage. “Ruthless” said he was never out, and even threw up a thumbs up right before Dean stepped in to pull Askren off.
Despite the controversy, Askren was officially declared the winner via first-round submission. UFC President Dana White agreed that the stoppage was a bad one. However, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) agrees with Askren, that Lawler went limp and the stoppage was justified.
Current Bellator MMA commentator and former longtime referee John McCarthy has offered his take on the issue. McCarthy took to Twitter and agreed that Dean made a mistake in stopping the fight too early, but said we’re all human and make mistakes:
“Obviously not. We are all human and we all make mistakes”
Obviously not. We are all human and we all make mistakes https://t.co/aiXEFQ862l— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) March 3, 2019