The highly anticipated UFC 235 bout between former champion Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren ended in controversy. Referee Herb Dean called the fight thinking Lawler had passed out from Askren’s bulldog choke attempt, only for the former champ to pop back up and protest.
The UFC has since released parts of in-cage audio from that night, which included the conversation between Dean and Lawler. Check out the footage and the transcript below.
Immediately after the stoppage:
Lawler: “What the [expletive] are you doing?!”
Dean: “I thought you…”
Lawler: “I didn’t. What the [expletive]?!”
Almost instantly, Lawler went from protesting to accepting that it’s a part of the sport:
Lawler: “I know. It’s alright.”
Askren to Lawler: “Hey, I love you Robbie. I had to fight you.”
Lawler then called over Dean and whispered that the decision didn’t change how he felt about his skills as a referee:
Lawler: “Herb. Herb. Hey. Hey, don’t [expletive] worry about it. You’re a [expletive] hell of a ref.
Dean: “No, man. No. I don’t understand how, like… I saw your arm (go) limp, I grabbed it. But I didn’t know.”
Lawler: “and then I gave you a thumbs up.”
Dean: “I didn’t know. I didn’t see you give me a thumbs up.”
Lawler: “It happens man. If [expletive] happens.”
Lawler seemingly needed just two seconds to go from shock and disbelief, to accepting it was a hard call to make and referees won’t always get everything right. Fighting involves high stress and emotions — and there have been meltdowns over far less controversy — so it’s nice to see the two manage to have a very calm and respectful discussion about this all.
About the author