ROUNDTABLE: Was the stoppage in the Ben Askren-Robbie Lawler fight the right call? (UPDATED)

By Michael Hiscoe, Managing Editor

Mar 2, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robbie Lawler (red gloves) and Ben Askren (blue gloves) during UFC 235 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

What is your take on the finish to the Ben Askren-Robbie Lawler fight at UFC 235?

Sean Covington, Columnist – Covington’s Corner

I felt that the stoppage was too early, you can tell by how quickly and Robbie Lawler got up and how coherent he was. Herb Dean has been truly atrocious at his job at times. On the other side of the argument; Ben Askren has a very tight squeeze and may have put Robbie out, that is possible.

Frank Hyden, Columnist – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The finish sucked because referee Herb Dean messed up. That’s a shame because it takes away from what happened in the fight. Askren survived some bigtime shots and showed toughness but the controversy over the finish overshadowed that. You have to give Askren huge credit for fighting through that and getting the win, but now there’s doubt about that, through no fault of Askren’s. The UFC has already said they’re going to schedule a rematch so hopefully, that will be without incident.

Gary Meigs, MMATorch Contributor

Unfortunately, I think we had a situation where Herb was being Herb. He was quick to jump in when Robbie’s arm dropped but then quickly moved forward with a thumbs up. Where was this concern when Askren was put into next week with that body slam followed by some ground and pound bombs?

Christian Moore, MMATorch Contributor

I have mixed feelings about the stoppage. Overall, it was a bad stoppage. However, we all saw Lawler’s arm go limp. I look at it this way. It seemed like he was out. So what is the better choice? Stopping the fight before someone who may be choked out is choked out, or letting it go, having an unconscious fighter unable to tap out. A ref’s job is to protect a fighter, that why we usually see TKO’s and not KO’s. It was a poor stoppage, but Lawler looked out so Herb did do the right thing.

Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch Managing Editor

There was a lot going on there. First of all, it’s worth noting that Robbie Lawler nearly finished Ben Askren very early in the fight. From the angle on TV, it looked like the fight should have been stopped, but it wasn’t. I think that plays into some of the unrest with how the fight eventually ended.

Lawler’s arm was on Askren’s head and then it fell hard to the mat. It did not appear to be a voluntary movement in any way, as the arm didn’t move to do anything to defend the choke. At that point, it would have been appropriate for Herb Dean to stop the fight.

But that’s not what he did. Dean grabbed Lawler’s arm to see if there was any life there, and there was, so, at that point, he should have given Lawler a chance to continue.

To summarize, Herb Dean did the right thing at the wrong time and he did it the wrong way.


So in the end, it’s kind of a convoluted mess and a rematch might just be the right thing to do for everybody involved. That was a great fight so why not do it again?

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