Ben Askren’s first UFC opponent appears close to being finalized. According to multiple reports, the undefeated former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight titleholder could be making his debut in the first quarter of 2019 against former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.
The bout is reportedly in the works for UFC 233, according to MMAjunkie.com.
Askren was recently acquired by the UFC in a “trade” which sent former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship in exchange for the undefeated 170-pounder.
Askren (18-0, 1 NC) is a former Bellator and ONE Championship champion, while Johnson (27-3-1) recently lost his title in August to Henry Cejudo.
Johnson was hoping to leave the UFC following his loss, but the UFC needed incentive to release the former titleholder from his contract, according to ESPN.com. That’s when First Round Management — which represents Mighty Mouse — came up with the idea.
The move was a natural fit, with Johnson’s AMC Pankration coach Matt Hume also serving as the vice president of operations at ONE Championship.
No other bouts have been rumored for UFC 233 at this time, but additional fights should be announced in the upcoming weeks as the event draws closer.
UFC 233 takes place Saturday, January 26, 2019, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The last time the UFC made the trip to Anaheim was on July 29, 2017, when Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones faced off in a rematch for the light heavyweight title at UFC 214, which also took place at the Honda Center. The event recorded an attendance of 16,610.