Fight fans were treated to a stacked card at UFC 235 this past Saturday. There were two title fights and a much-anticipated UFC debut for a veteran fighter. It was a historic night to say the least. Let’s recap the key fights on the card.
Ben Askren def. Robbie Lawler via first-round submission (bulldog choke)
After years of wondering what would happen if Ben Askren came to the UFC, it finally happened. A historic cross promotion trade back in late 2018 brought Askren to the UFC and sent Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson to ONE Championship. On Saturday the 18-0 former ONE Championship and Bellator champ finally made his debut in the UFC octagon against Robbie Lawler.
Both fighters engaged almost immediately and Lawler slammed Askren to the mat and began to pummel him with fists. Askren got a cut above his eye from this exchange and began to bleed out. However, he continued to defend.
Askren eventually made it back to his feet and through a clinch gained a favorable position on Lawler. He got Lawler in a bulldog choke and after his arm appeared to go limp, referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight at the 3:20 mark in the first round.
This created quite a bit of controversy as Lawler seemed fully conscious once the Askren released the submission hold. Askren’s arm was raised in victory though for his debut, and he goes onto a 19-0 professional record.
Hey @darrentill2 now that there isn’t much standing between us, I don’t see your loose gums flapping. See you in London, sucka!— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) March 3, 2019
At the post-fight conference, it was mentioned that UFC president Dana White wanted to book a rematch. But Askren told reporters he was not interested in that. He seems to have his sights set on the winner of Jorge Masvidal and Darren Till which takes place at UFC Fight Night 147 in London in two weeks.
Kamaru Usman def. Tyron Woodley (c) via unanimous decision
Kamaru Usman and Tyron Woodley battled it out for five solid rounds for the Welterweight Championship. Usman dominated Woodley throughout the fight. He landed more significant strikes and controlled the fight on the ground as well. Usman took a unanimous decision and made UFC history by becoming the first African champion.
Kamaru Usman from Auchi, from Nigeria 🇳🇬 has thus to say after defeating the current Welterweight Champion Tryon Woodley to become the first African to be a UFC Champion. pic.twitter.com/BRnxDF3Jto— JAHEIM😎❓ (@Jaheim007) March 3, 2019
A fight with Colby Covington looks to be up next for Usman. Covington was in the crowd with a “Make America Great Again” hat and a replica championship belt, clearly playing the role of heel.
Upon his exit from the octagon it looked as though words between Covington and Usman were exchanged. UFC staff however prevented an altercation from occurring, redirecting Usman’s exit.
The animosity seems to continue as the two had another stand off at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas the day after UFC 235. This will make for an intriguing title fight when the two of them eventually square off.
Jon Jones (c) def. Anthony Smith via unanimous decision
Jon “Bones” Jones had an extremely quick turnaround from his last title fight, just a little over two months. He looked to be in full form though. He dominated Anthony “Lionheart” Smith throughout the five rounds.
Jones put the pressure on from the get-go, but Smith held on. Even when Jones hit Smith with an illegal knee that could’ve ended the fight, he opted to continue on. He could’ve easily taken a victory via disqualification, but that wasn’t what he wanted.
As Lionheart said in the post-fight Octagon interview “I (didn’t) want to steal it.” The fight continued and Jones took the victory via unanimous decision to retain the Light Heavyweight Championship.
In the post-fight press conference, it was mentioned that Thiago Santos would be a possible next opponent for Jones. But Brock Lesnar’s name was brought as well should Jones want to move up to Heavyweight.
Jones cited that he still interested in fighting Lesnar. When pressed as to why he’d want to take that fight he stated that it was an “extremely high-risk and extremely high-reward” fight. And in his words there was no other opponent for him that could bring in the numbers that the two of them could.
What Does the Future Hold?
UFC 235 was a thriller from start to finish with many intriguing fights even on the undercard. The first African champ in UFC history was crowned and Jones’ reign over the Light Heavyweight division continues. There is a pretty clear indication of who Usman will fight. As for Askren and Jones, we’ll have to wait and find out!