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UFC 173 fight card primer: Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger

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Bloody Elbow presents its fight primer coverage for tomorrow night's UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw. Here, we look at a welterweight showdown between Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger.

Esther Lin

In arguably the best and most competitive fight on paper, UFC 173 sees welterweights Robbie Lawler (22-10, 1 NC MMA; 7-4 UFC) and Jake Ellenberger (29-7 MMA, 8-3 UFC) scrap in a highly anticipated clash on the main card. Lawler is coming off a grueling, thrilling title loss to Johny Hendricks, while Ellenberger is making his 2014 debut on the 3rd time of asking after his previous two fights were canceled.

It is likely that neither man can afford a 2nd straight defeat in a division brimming with contenders, so there's plenty on the line tonight in Las Vegas. You have two KO artists who are both very good wrestlers, but Lawler has the clear edge in cardio and boxing. The UFC 173 main card airs live at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, with prelims preceding it on Fox Sports 1 at 8 PM ET.

How do these two stack up?

Lawler: 32 years old | 5'11" | 74" reach
Ellenberger: 29 years old | 6'0" | 73" reach

How have these two done recently?

Lawler: L - Johny Hendricks (UD) | W - Rory MacDonald (SD) | W - Bobby Voelker (TKO)
Ellenberger: L - Rory MacDonald (SD) | W - Nate Marquardt (KO) | W - Jay Hieron (UD)

How did these two get here?

Lawler's unlikely run to the top of the welterweight division is well-documented. After a lackluster performance against Lorenz Larkin, Lawler returned to 170 lbs for the first time in 9 years, and pulled off a shocking TKO of Josh Koscheck. After dispatching Bobby Voelker with ease, Lawler was booked against top contender Rory MacDonald atUFC 167 last November. In a dramatic fight, Lawler pulled away in the 3rd round by flooring MacDonald and getting the split decision nod. His fantastic title fight with Johny Hendricks saw him come up just one round short on the scorecards, but he had Hendricks in more trouble on the feet than any of his past opponents. His KO power is still vaunted and he looks like a man who is fulfilling his potential.

Ellenberger is known for his own heavy hands and outstanding wrestling, and in mid-2012 he was considered to be a potential title contender. After dominating Martin Kampmann in round 1, he was KO'd by Kampmann's knees in the clinch, which set him back in the title picture. Consecutive wins over veterans Jay Hieron and Nate Marquardt set Ellenberger up for his own clash with MacDonald, only for Ellenberger to just about freeze up and conjure up little offense in a tepid performance. This fight is his first in 2014 after his previously two scheduled bouts against Tarec Saffiedine were called off due to separate injuries to both men.

Why should you care?

Pivotal fight between a pair of top 10 welterweights with vicious KO power. I really don't understand why you wouldn't care about a match-up like this.