Robbie Lawler will another chance to continue his storybook comeback this Saturday at UFC 167 when he steps inside the cage against perhaps the sport’s hottest prospect, Rory MacDonald.
Lawler, 21-9, who revived his career in the UFC with two stunning KOs over the tough Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker is now on the verge of UFC history if he can derail the freight train-like rise of MacDonald, 15-1, a protégé of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
After losses to Ronaldo Souza, Tim Kennedy and Lorenz Larkin, some observers had written off Lawler as a tough journeyman, but one who couldn’t adjust to the modern MMA fighter. Lawler, however, has experienced a surprising resurgence since the UFC shut down Strikeforce and put him inside the cage as a welterweight. Now he stands at the edge of a possible title shot if he dispose of MacDonald, whom many believe the heir apparent to GSP’s throne.
There are no secrets about Lawler’s style. Of his 21 victories, 18 have come by vicious knockout. Lawler is a one-punch knockout specialists. If he hits you on the chin, it will be lights out.
But Lawler has struggled when fighters have been able to negate his power. He’s less powerful on his back and his submission defense has never been his strength. Of his nine losses, he has been submitted five times.
Whatever happens Saturday night, Lawler has proved his earlier critics wrong. He is a UFC fighter on the rise and possibly one step away from a title shot. As a welterweight, the 31-year-old has looked lean, strong and youthful. He’s sort of a throwback UFC fighter; he’s not going to spend the fight on the mat, or up against the cage if he doesn’t have to. He’s swinging and swinging hard. He doesn’t get paid by the minute.
“I come to fight,” Lawler recently told MMA Junkie. “I come to beat people up and have a good time out there and compete. I don’t really like to talk too much about anything, and I don’t really like to talk trash about my opponents because they’re all really tough guys. They train hard, and they’re top-level guys. I respect them all.”