Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley’s partnership has now brought them to a point where for the first time, the pair are sharing a card under the UFC banner.
Los Angeles, CA — Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley are longtime friends and training partners. Now, they’re fighting on the same card, UFC 235. For Woodley, it’s yet another title defense in a championship reign, a story he is continuing to write. Askren, however, is making his uFC debut. A debut many thought would never come after the former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion retired over a year ago.
While their career paths could not be more different, they’ve helped each other to this point. Though as Woodley told media outlets including Cageside Press on Monday, “from a professional level, there’s been so many fights that Ben has helped me prepare for. And this is the only time I’ve ever been able to help him for a fight. So I was kind of honored and kind of excited.”
The UFC welterweight champion admitted that “I didn’t play the hugest role, but I can show him the little small things I saw in the fight. I always like to give a fighter their own ability to look at a fight. Because things that may be alarming to me, may not be alarming to him.” So in the end, “I just showed him some things that we saw, tendencies over and over again, that he can probably exploit. Just to be able to do that is kind of dope.”
Woodley doesn’t expect to be able to watch Askren’s fight live, given he’ll be readying himself for his co-main event battle against Kamaru Usman. But he admits he’ll record the PPV and watch it later.
As for their partnership overall, “I think we’ve got a pretty good ying and yang, since we’ve been in college.”
Askren chimed in saying that “I think it’s a perfect fit. Because obviously [Kamaru] Usman’s only hope is to take Tyron down, so I can put that forward pressure on him. And Robbie’s [Lawler] only chance is to hit me, so Tyron, when he’s being Robbie and trying to stop my takedowns and hit me, and when I’m being Usman, it really plays really well off each other and makes perfect sense.”
“But we’re better versions of what they’re trying to prepare for,” Woodley added.
To Tyron Woodley, sharing a card with Askren isn’t something he ever expected to happen. Nor ‘Funky’ Ben being in the UFC at all. “It got to a point where I didn’t ask Ben, Ben does his deal. I just felt like Ben wanted to compete against the best guys, he had an opportunity to compete, be treated fairly and be paid well, and keep dominating [in ONE Championship],” he said.
“I didn’t know if he had to be in the UFC to actually facilitate those wants and needs. And when this thing happened, I think it hit everybody by surprise.” After all, “who the hell would have thought a trade would have ever happened?”
Askren and Woodley fight this Saturday, March 2 at UFC 235, against Robbie Lawler and Kamaru Usman, respectively.