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Robbie Lawler’s manager says ‘immediate rematch is warranted’ after UFC 235 controversy

Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren facing off ahead of their welterweight bout at UFC 235, which took place on March 2 in Las Vegas
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Team Lawler isn’t taking its fighter’s latest loss lying down.

The sting is still fresh from Robbie Lawler’s controversial submission defeat at the hands of Ben Askren, which took place this past Saturday at UFC 235 in Las Vegas. What was developing into a thrilling encounter between the two welterweight stars instead went down in infamy due to a controversial finish that saw referee Herb Dean rule that Lawler was rendered unconscious by a bulldog choke in the middle of the first round. Lawler’s immediate recovery and inconclusive replays left viewers wondering what exactly had happened and whether Dean had made the correct call.

According to Lawler, Askren wasn’t close to choking him unconscious and his coach Henri Hooft agreed, saying that Dean needed to give Lawler more of a chance to recover. UFC president Dana White was also critical of the stoppage.

Askren, for his part, supported Dean’s decision and upon reviewing the footage of the finish said that he saw Lawler’s arm go limp. When asked what he would do if the offer to fight Lawler again right away came along, Askren said, “I’ll pass.”

On Thursday, Lawler’s manager David Martin released a statement to MMA News in which he praised Askren’s abilities while further questioning the finish and suggesting both an immediate rematch and a possible appeal.

“We acknowledge that Ben is a tremendous fighter; coming back from the beating Robbie gave him demonstrates his grit and shows why he has a strong history of winning,” Martin said in the statement. “That is undeniable. However, Ben’s comments speak directly to the fact that there was a lot of time left in the round leading to a lot of unknowns. Things could have dramatically changed in the 1:40 remaining in the round, just as they did a minute into the fight.

“It is unfortunate that Robbie didn’t get his chance to get out of a tough position like Ben was able to do earlier in the round. No one knows, which is why an immediate rematch is warranted. As for an appeal to the commission, nothing has been ruled out. But if this were to occur it would be handled professionally behind closed doors like we do all of our business. Through adversity, Robbie remains a true professional and role model for the sport — someone I certainly want my three boys to look up to.”

Post-fight, Lawler indicated that he wasn’t all in on the idea of appealing the result, but that he trusted his management to handle the situation.

Askren is currently angling for a bout with recent UFC welterweight title challenger Darren Till, pending the Englishman getting past Jorge Masvidal at UFC London on March 16.

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