Ben Askren’s UFC debut is reportedly targeted for early 2019 and will come against a former champion.

As first reported by ESPN, Askren is slated to take on Robbie Lawler at UFC 233 on January 26th in Anaheim, California. While the bout has yet to be finalised, UFC president Dana White confirmed with ESPN that the Askren – Lawler welterweight bout is pencilled in by the promotion.

Askren (18-0) signed with the UFC last month as a part of a trade deal with ONE Championship that saw former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson move in the opposite direction. Askren was a former welterweight champion in both Bellator and ONE and last fought in November of last year where he recorded a first-round TKO over Shinya Aoki.

Lawler (28-12, 1 NC) meanwhile last fought in December 2017 where he lost a five-round decision to Rafael dos Anjos, suffering a torn ACL in the process. Lawler claimed the UFC’s 170 lbs title in 2014 and successfully defended the belt twice before losing to current champion Tyron Woodley in 2016.