Lets get this over with first. I’m a big Robbie Lawler fan, he’s an interesting guy who has done a hell of a lot in our sport and this weekend see’s Robbie step under the glare of the main event to take on the “Big Rig”, terrible name aside, Hendricks is a good fight for Robbie but we’ll get to that as I want to break down a little bit of Robbie’s history and why he may be worth betting on this weekend..
Lawler’s background was in TMA and boxing and as we probably all know he started competing at nine, by 16 he was under Pat Miletitch and was on his way to becoming a true MMA fighter. The early days were good but not consistent, wins over Aaron Riley, Steve Berger, Tiki & Chris Lytle were good but he got derailed by Pete Spratt of all people, Spratt was a decent enough but he had just lost to Carlos Newton and went on to get beat down by GSP, Chris Lytle(!) and John Cronk, all people Robbie should and could have beaten (he did take out Lytle).
After that little run Robbie was back in the game against Nick Diaz where he implemented possibly the worst game-plan of all time, he walked (well kind of ran actually) into Nick’s punches and got himself knocked out. Not a good game-plan and not a good result, it ended any kind of title hopes he may have had at the time. Evan Tanner put a bow on that for him and sent Robbie out of the UFC. A shame but at the time well deserved.
Robbie went off and won 8 of his next 10 fights in Elite XC, KOTC and Icon. One NC when Scott Smith was on the receiving end of a nasty eye poke from Lawler, they rematched and Robbie TKO’d Smith in the second in fine style. Things were allegedly not great with Icon and they stripped Lawler of his title for failing to defend it in 2008 after he pulled out of the fight with Kala Hose. As we all know Strikeforce came calling after that..
Strikeforce was a strange place for Robbie, clearly Scott Coker didn’t like him or care about developing him, who could forget Robbie falling asleep at the presser? That was despite some great performances. You want to see an example of heart, grit and guts over adversity, watch Lawler vs Manhoef. Robbie won that fight on one leg. The first 90 seconds of that fight are a kick fest back and forward with Melvin getting the better of the whole exchange, Melvin slammed kicks home so hard I felt them in my living room in England.. It did not look good for Robbie, the last 2 kicks landed by Melvin would have permanently crippled a normal human being and I’m sure Robbie’s leg is still attached to him rather than on Melvin’s trophy wall due to heart not flesh and bone. Then, there it was, the wild looping overhand which slammed into Melvin’s jaw and sent him reeling, Robbie chased him down, well, he sort of hopped after him and finished the fight. Robbie’s best performance? Yeah, I’d say so, it was knockout of the year by quite some margin. Robbie was back in the game… Or so we all thought.
We then entered a period of complete inconsistency, it was like he forgot what he was good at and only showed sparks for a while, Souza, Kennedy and Larkin all showed that Robbie was beatable. Kennedy, as is his wont still goes on about how he knows the keys to beating Lawler, personally I thought he just had the keys to making fights dull but there you go.
Lawler’s return to the UFC was not really heralded as a big thing, he was part of the acquisition, Dana kind of likes him but there was an air of him being fed to Koscheck. Kos wanted to wrestle and Robbie wanted to bang, and stuff Kos’ wrestling, which he did very well, knees and punches followed and the happy decline (for me, I just don’t like the guy) of Kos was in the books. Did Robbie change his game? No, not really but he looked SO much better than he had for a while. The move to welterweight made complete sense and made the pundits all question why Robbie had continued to labour under the misapprehension that he was a middleweight for so long.
Lawler went on to utterly dominate Bobby Voelker , flying knees, head kicks, the full array of Robbie’s arsenal was taken out of the box and thrown bodily at the hapless Voelker ending with a sweet kick to the head that left Robbie fully on track for something great with a hungry young up and comer acting as the gatekeeper.. The potentially boring as hell Rory Mac.
Once again Robbie showed that one of the sport’s great wrestlers could be stuffed by the crafty veteran, time and again Rory tried to get him down and time and again he was stuffed and punished for trying. MacDonald had no answer for Robbie’s power punches, he couldn’t control him on the mat and he was outclassed, not something we thought we’d be saying about the 31 year old 32 fight veteran. Robbie wins by split decision..
This weekend see’s Robbie fight for the title (a somewhat redundant statement as I’m sure you are app very much aware of that fact). Does he stand a chance? I think he stands more than a chance, I think he has a very real opportunity to become the next welterweight champ of the UFC. Why?
We have 2 southpaw fighters here but only one of them that knows how to use both hands, sorry Hendricks fans, Johnny is a one handed fighter, his right is frankly pathetic and he looks so uncomfortable throwing it that he kind of gives up with it after a while. Johnny is arguably one of the best wrestlers in the UFC, however, he is not a great MMA wrestler. Considering how well Lawler defended against Rory Mac I don’t see Hendricks threatening to with his takedowns, also, if / when he does take people down his Ground and Pound is simply not good enough. I’m looking for this to be a slugfest for the ages and one I’m very much looking forward to, if you see the betting lines, for some reason Lawler is the complete underdog, I for one will be putting some money on him getting the title…