Ex-US Olympic Wrestler Ben Askren to Make Debut vs. Robbie Lawler at UFC 233

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

UFC fighter Ben Askren waits for the start of a middleweight mixed martial arts bout between David Branch and Jared Cannonier at UFC 230, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Fans won't have to wait much longer for Ben Askren's long-awaited UFC debut.

The promotion announced Wednesday that Askren will face off against Robbie Lawler at UFC 233 on Jan. 26. 

Askren, 34, came to the UFC in October in a pseudo-trade that sent Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship in return. Askren is 18-0 with one no-contest in 19 career fights and was ONE's welterweight champion.

A 2008 Olympian in wrestling, Askren began his career in Bellator before moving to ONE in 2014. He retired in November 2017 after defeating Shinya Aoki at One Championship 64, though he left open the possibility of a return.

That return opportunity came in the form of an offer from UFC and a unique opportunity to pull off an unprecedented swap of talent between two promotions.

"I said the only way I would come back is if I could prove I was the best in the world; that’s the path I’ve taken," Askren said, per JR Radcliffe of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I'm in the process of putting my training back together, bringing (training personnel) to me in Hartland. I've got a busy life with three kids and two businesses, and I'm trying to make everything on my schedule, which is a nice luxury to have right now."

Lawler, a former welterweight champion, has lost two of his last three fights. He lost to Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision on a Fox special broadcast last December. The 36-year-old is 28-12 (1) in his career.