Robbie Lawler vs. Ben Askren
|Date & Time||Saturday March 2, 2019, 11:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Lawler +246 / Askren -274 -- Over/Under:
Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren fight Saturday in UFC 235 at the T-Mobile Arena.
Robbie Lawler enters this fight with a 28-12 record and has won 71 percent of his fights by knockout. Lawler has won six of his last eight fights and is coming off a December (2017) loss to Rafael dos Anjos. Lawler is averaging 3.88 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 46 percent. Lawler is averaging 0.95 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 76 percent. Lawler hasn’t lost back-to-back fights since 2011, but he enters this bout with a ton of question marks. Lawler hasn’t fought in 15 months due to a torn ACL, and he’s soon going to be 37 years old. On top of potential rust, that’s not the easiest injury to come back from, especially at his age, so there’s no telling what fighter you’re going to get in his return. When Lawler is at his best, he’s an aggressive striker with legit knockout potential and is just as effective in the clinch as he is standing up. Five of Lawler’s last seven wins have come by decision, but his striking game can’t be slept on at all. Lawler is also quite the takedown artist when he looks to take the fight to the canvas, but he’s been submitted five times, so the ground game can be a slippery slope. This will be Lawler’s 11th career fight in Las Vegas.
Ben Askren enters this fight with a 18-0 record and has won 39 percent of his fights by decision. Askren has won his last four fights and is coming off a November (2017) win over Shinya Aoki. Askren will make his UFC debut after Demetrious Johnson moved to ONE Championship, an exchange that took place back in November. Askren is one of the most accomplished wrestlers and top control grapplers in the sport, and that includes gold medals in freestyle wrestling and participating in the 2008 Olympics. Askren is quite physical with his takedown attempts, as he simply picks dudes up and throws them around, and he wears on his opponent once gaining top position. The concern is that Askren is very limited in his standup and his striking game altogether. Askren makes Khabib Nurmagomedov look like a world class striker, so there’s certainly reason to lower expectations for his debut just a tad. At some point the slow hands and lack of punching power will catch up to Askren, especially if he sticks with the UFC longterm. This will be Askren’s first career fight in Las Vegas.
I can’t tell you how long I considered backing Lawler and the plus money in this fight. His aggressive standup striking gives him a real chance of winning this fight, and he has an above-average takedown defense, so there’s a chance he gets to fight his style longer than most anticipate. I’m scared to death for Askren if this fight doesn’t go to the canvas quickly. With that said, the accomplishments for Askren speak for themselves, and he usually always gets the fight where he wants it. Once he produces a takedown, Askren goes to work and closes the deal. There’s also the fact Lawler is coming off a torn ACL, and while he’s saying he feels great and is back to being his normal self, nobody knows for sure until he steps into that octagon. I’m always hesitant in backing fighters either on long layoffs or serious injuries.
I don’t love this price with Askren, but he should win his UFC debut and has less question marks than Ruthless.