While not one of the main attractions of the UFC 173 fight card, the match-up between Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger was a fantastic affair that featured a triumphant performance from "Ruthless," as he out-struck the "Juggernaut" for the better part of three rounds before finishing him in the final round. It was one of Lawler's most impressive performances to date and a testament to his evolving skill-set.
The victory came two months after Lawler nearly won the vacant welterweight title from Johny Hendricks, yet Robbie appeared fresh throughout the fight and methodically broke down Ellenberger with a variety of kicks, body shots and jabs. Ellenberger would not take a go-for-broke approach to the fight until the third round, where he came out swinging for dear life. Unfortunately, that approach ultimately allowed Lawler to find the necessary opening and finish him in the final round.
Official Result: Robbie Lawler def. Jake Ellenberger via TKO (Strikes, Round 3, 3:06)
What was the high point of the fight?
The third round was the most fast-paced of the three, and also featured afight-ending combination that required the referee to step in and save Ellenberger.
Where do these two go from here?
Lawler (23-10-1 NC) has now won four of his five bouts in the UFC octagon, with his only loss coming in the title fight against Johny Hendricks. Following his win, Lawler made it clear that he was interested in working his way back to a title shot, which is certainly the path he appears to be destined for.
Ellenberger (29-8) has now lost two straight bouts in the UFC, both of which were considered lackluster performances on his part. UFC President Dana White made it clear that there is room for improvement when he singled Ellenberger out at the post-fight media scrum and stated that the fighter has a "lot of work to do."
Watch now, later, or never?
Later. It was a fantastic performance from Lawler, but it was definitely outshined by the evening's main event.