Smith is on a three-fight win streak but light-heavyweight champion Jones represents a major step up in wrestling skill and also has an 8½-inch reach advantage he can put to use in the standup game.
"I'd better be next, and if I'm not next they'd better give me my release so I can go somewhere else to defend my title".
Although the unbeaten former collegiate wrestling star had dominated competition around the world for almost a decade, his tactical fighting style and his personal beefs with UFC President Dana White had kept him off the sport's biggest stage - and Askren insists he was at peace with it all. Few champions have defended their titles the way that Robbie Lawler did, who was involved in some absolute wars and handled himself as a man would in the cage win or lose. "I've been wanting this fight, and I'll be honest, I might not be the best striker in the world". I have to show him my heart and do whatever it takes.
Ben Askren (-300), recently brought in from ONE FC and regarded as the finest wrestler in all of mixed martial arts, makes his UFC debut in a welterweight tilt against Robbie Lawler (+230). This will be Lawler's first fight since a December 2017 bout with dos Anjos, a fight in which he tore his ACL. The preliminary card starts at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the main UFC 235 fight card at 10 p.m. ET. Although the general consensus remains that Jones is one of the best fighters to ever step foot inside the octagon, his troubles with substance abuse and constant suspensions remain a powerful asterisk next to his accomplishments.
And now the rangy Russian is looking to claim the biggest win of his career against hammer-fisted American Jeremy "Lil Heathen" Stephens in the featured preliminary bout at UFC 235.More news: Trump says former lawyer Cohen 'lied a lot' in Congress testimony
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"This is what I was always supposed to be doing", Askren said.
Saturday's fights will keep fans on the edge of their seats and definitely will be well worth the watch.
Q. Do you have a message for your fans ahead of your fight?
Woodley also wonders why USADA wouldn't just test him earlier in the day, instead of costing the fighter some money. He is up against one of the best grapplers in all of mixed martial arts so he should keep kicks to a minimum and those that he does throw should be aimed at the calf, so as to make it more hard to be caught by Askren.
I can't wait for tonight! I hope everyone enjoys the fights.