Former ONE Championship superstar Ben 'Funky' Askren proved that he’s one of the best welterweights in the world, after beating Robbie Lawler in his UFC debut, Sunday.
The former titleholder in both ONE and Bellator returned from a short retirement to defeat Lawler via submission in the first round at UFC 235 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Askren kickstarted the fight by making a takedown attempt against Lawler, only to find himself being picked up and slammed to the ground by his fellow American opponent.
Grounded, Askren was nearly finished as Lawler rained ruthless strikes on him, but somehow managed to survive the punishment and got back onto his feet seconds later.
He then went to apply a bulldog choke, leaving Lawler's right arm limp for a split second, and prompting referee Herb Dean to call a stop to the contest. READ: MMA: Ben Askren retires undefeated, Aiman gets the win for Malaysia
However, the decision was immediately protested by Lawler but the referee insisted that his call was final.
Askren, 34, is highly regarded for his outstanding wrestling background that earned him two NCAA Division I national championship trophies and the privilege to represent the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Growing up in the Midwestern United States, a region traditionally known as a hotbed for amateur wrestling, Askren was motivated by the spirit of competition and wanted to participate in a sport where he could be the master of his own fate.
Askren had long planned switch to mixed martial arts (MMA) and conquer that sport once he hung up his wrestling boots.
Following his 2008 Olympic campaign, Askren made the transition and has flawlessly translated his exemplary grappling skills into his growing skillset.
In his career as a professional martial artist, Askren now holds an immaculate standing of 19-0, 1 No Contest, owning six submission victories and five knockout triumphs.
Askren joined the UFC last year in exchange with Demetrious Johnson who moved to ONE Championship.