"Ruthless" Robbie Lawler Gets A 2nd Chance To Win The Welterweight Title At UFC 181
"Ruthless" Robbie Lawler gets a 2nd chance at redemption when he faces UFC welterweight champion Johny "Bigg Rigg" Hendricks at UFC 181 in Las Vegas.
Lawler has enjoyed a new resurgence in his mixed martial arts career. Stepping away from the UFC in 2004 after a couple of back-to-back losses, Lawler had a lot of ups and downs during his time in the Elite XC and Strikeforce organizations. Returning once again to the UFC in February of 2013, Lawler was a renewed spirit, and it showed immediately in his first match against veteran Josh Koscheck. Lawler stopped Koscheck early with vicious ground and pound. His performance against a tough veteran like Koscheck made everyone in the UFC pay attention, but it was his next fight against Bobby Voelker that raised the stakes even higher. In highlight reel fashion, Lawler stopped Voelker with a vicious head kick that immediately ended the fight. Voelker himself was not a huge MMA star, but the way in which Lawler ended the fight, along with his classic "arms outstretched to the heavens" pose, rose his stock even higher.
His next test would be the on fire, up and coming, Rory MacDonald. On paper, MacDonald was favored to win, but Lawler would not be denied, and took it to Rory at UFC 167. Lawler simply outstruck and outpointed Rory to a unanimous decision and walked away with another high profile win. Shortly after this victory, the long reigning legend, Georges St. Pierre, decided to walk away from the sport and vacated the UFC welterweight title. Now that the title was up for grabs, the UFC matched the two most qualified contenders at the time, Johny Hendricks, and Robbie Lawler. After everything that Lawler had been through in his career, it appeared that this was his time to finally become a world champion. He would meet Hendricks at UFC 171 for the vacated title.
Because both fighters had established such a reputation for finishing their opponents by knock out, this fight was expected to be a barn burner that wouldn't make it out of the first two rounds. Many MMA fans really enjoyed Lawler's comeback story and became hopeful that he would win the UFC gold. Unfortunately, the fight did not end by knock out and had to be sent over to the judges to decide. Lawler fought valiantly, but a couple of well timed takedowns by Hendricks at the end of the fight probably secured the victory for him. You could see the disgust on Lawler's face after being taken down. After the judges deliberated, they gave the title to Johny Hendricks.
Although disappointed, this fight didn't stop Lawler's momentum or his desire for the belt. In his next fight at UFC 173, he once again stopped a high caliber opponent in Jake Ellenberger, knocking him out in round 3. Lawler returned only 2 months later to take on yet another well regarded veteran in Matt "The Immortal" Brown. Lawler got it done once again, getting a unanimous decision victory over Brown at UFC Fight Night.
Now Lawler has the opportunity in front of him once again to finally become a world champion.
Getting a title shot can be very exciting and motivating for any MMA fighter, but if you lose you take the risk of dropping back down the rankings and starting all over again. Then, if you're fortunate to reclimb the rankings again and get a second title shot, that indeed becomes probably the most important fight of your career, even more important than the first title shot. After losing a second title fight, it's not as easy to reclimb the ranks. The interest in a fighter will not be a high priority after losing two title fights, and that's the big risk Lawler faces at UFC 181.
Lawler has already stated that he will be "better than ever" for the rematch, and we believe that he will. We're not sure what Hendricks mindset is, but Lawler will probably do everything in his power to not let this fight go to the judges. The advantage that Lawler has is that he has stayed active after the title loss. This will be Lawler's 4th fight this year. Hendricks only fight this year was against Lawler back in March, and he was injured, so has Hendricks fully recovered? Only time will tell. The advantage seems to swing in Lawler's favor. With one UFC title loss on his record, Lawler's back is against the wall. Can Robbie overcome the shadows of the past and rise to the occasion to earn the world title, or will he fold under the pressure and fade into obscurity? We will find out on December 6th.