Robbie Lawler puts the finishing touches on Murilo "Ninja" Rua at "EliteXC: Uprising." Photo by Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Welcome back to Fight Rewind. Each week we'll take you back to a classic fight (that can either be famous or infamous) from UFC, PRIDE, Strikeforce, EliteXC, King of the Cage, WFA and more. My DVD collection is large, so expect a nice variety of bouts here. We continue our look at past fights from fighters on this week's "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson" show by looking at one of middleweight Robbie Lawler's most vicious knockouts.
The fight: Murilo Rua vs. Robbie Lawler
The date: Sept. 15, 2007
The location: Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii
The event: EliteXC: Uprising
Why it was memorable: On a show featuring future Strikeforce champions Jake Shields and Nick Diaz, along with the always-popular Gina Carano, it was "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler who stood out, brutally knocking out EliteXC middleweight champion Murilo "Ninja" Rua to capture the world title.
Lawler came into the fight as the ICON Sport middleweight champion to face Rua, the first-ever EliteXC middleweight champ. Rua called his title-winning victory in his prior fight with Joey Villasenor the greatest moment in his career. Unfortunately for him, it only would last three months.
The word from the commentary team of Mauro Ranallo, Stephen Quadros and Bill Goldberg was that Rua wanted to take the fight into the later rounds because he felt Lawler's cardio was suspect. That would be Ninja's downfall.
Lawler was nicknamed "Ruthless" for a reason: He stormed out and would look to knock people out as viciously and quickly as possible. Lawler started to reinvent himself a bit and become a more patient fighter, something we saw first hand in this fight.
The first round saw Ninja land multiple kicks to Lawler's leg, but the ICON champ landed some nice punches and had a slam in the early part of the round.
The second round started with Ninja looking to aggressively attack Lawler's lead leg. Ninja continually had Lawler backing up with but Lawler would sprawl from a takedown and tag Ninja with a big uppercut that had the champ nodding. Both men started picking up the pace with punches at this point and it was Lawler who was getting the best of it. In the span of 90 seconds, Ninja went from chasing Lawler around the cage, working leg kicks, to standing in the center of the cage and trading with him.
"I believe (Lawler's) like a spider spinning his web here," Quadros said. "He's waiting for Ninja to throw his shots, run out of gas and then he's going to drop a bomb."
Ninja would attempt a takedown with a minute left but wouldn't get it. He took a deep breath after it, and as Quadros would point out, Ninja's game plan to tire Lawler out seemed to be backfiring.
Lawler would open the third round with a hard kick to the body and a big right hand. Ninja would look to land more kicks but Lawler is walking through them at this point. Neither man afraid to throw punches. A big uppercut connects for Lawler and then he staggers Rua against the cage. He drops him and unleashes some serious bombs on the canvas before referee Mario Yamasaki can step in and stop the fight.
"HOLY KNOCKOUT BATMAN! WE'VE GOT A NEW ELITEXC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION!," Ranallo exclaimed.
The time of the stoppage was 2:04.
"What had been a very close fight up to that point ends in emphatic fashion," Ranallo said as Ninja was literally carried up the ramp by his team.
Lawler would defend his EliteXC title once before the company folded.