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Ben Askren vs Robbie Lawler

Ben Askren VS Robbie Lawler

In his highly anticipated UFC debut, undefeated wrestling phenom Ben “Funky” Askren meets the legend “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler at 170 pounds. A standout collegiate wrestler, same as his friend and teammate Tyron Woodley, Askren was an All American for University of Missouri and even reached the Olympics in 2008 and a gold medal in the 2009 world championships. Contrary to Woodley, a powerhouse based on explosiveness, Askren is a marvelous grappling technician with and uncanny ability to understand leverage and phenomenal positional awareness. He shines in scrambles, making almost impossible to get rid of him once he has a dominant position on the ground. Askren boasts an undefeated record in a career that has saw him become Bellator and One welterweight champion. Although some people would argue competition is less dangerous outside the UFC, he has beaten some big names in his career like Koreshkov, who he completely dominated in almost embarrasing fashion, and Douglas Lima. To be fair they were not at the same level they are now when they faced Ben, but both are top welterweights today, with Lima being top 5 or even higher in the world. Askren uses a variety of submissions attemps if given the chance, having a preference for the arm triangle choke, but his preferred way to work once he has achieved dominant position is slow but steady ground and pound until he sucks the fight out of the opponent. On the feet he is quite basic and his striking leaves much to be desired, the man that can stay upright against him would have a huge chance to beat Funky.
Enter Robbie Lawler. Already a legend of the game, the aging Lawler has always been a tornado of agression, a striking dinamo with the only objective to inflict pain and dispacth of his opponents as soon as possible. He enters this fight coming from a decisive points loss to Rafael Dos Anjos in which he got outworked and injured his knee, which required surgery an a quite long layoff. Even though a savage striker in his early days, Lawler slowly added some finesse to his striking, and although he remains the same lover of swinging big combinations punctuated with savage kicks, he now boasts a decent jab, which he used to perfection in his second meeting with Rory Macdonald. His takedown defense has always been excellent, even when faced with top notch wrestlers like Hendricks.
You only need to answer yourself one question in this fight. Can Lawler stay on his feet? If he can, he wins it and probably batters Askren along the way. If not he will get smothered on the ground and maybe even beaten up. The guess here is he can´t. Even though Lawler has very good takedown defense, it is more of a “classic” antiwrestler defense, with a very good sprawl to stop power doubles and good leverage with his back against defense. Askren is a completely different wrestler who will be looking for trips and leverage games with Robbie and put him down like he has done with multiple opponents. Also, Robbie is not the same fighter that defeated Hendricks and Macdonald anymore. If that was the case, at the current odds a poke on Lawler would be more tan justified. He is listed as the big underdog at (+240), while Askren sits at (-280). Even though Askren has been labeled boring by some, he is no decision machine. Most of his decision wins took place early in his career and he has finished 7 of his last 8 opponents, with the only one fight going the distance being at 185 pounds. If Ben is winning this fight it means he is dominating Lawler on the ground and aplying his trademark slow ground and pound pressure, and I think a play on him to win in round 3 against the durable Lawler could be interesting at the right odds.