Head trauma in combat sports can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It’s the slow death of everything a person has.
When Robbie Lawler lost his UFC middleweight belt to Tyron Woodley via KO, he was eager to return to the Octagon as soon as possible. However, when it was announced that he would be fighting Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 205, a week later he withdrew from the fight.
Many fans were disappointed, but Lawler’s ATT teammate Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal was relieved
In the space of just over one year, Lawler fought three fight of the year candidates, vs. Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald, and Carlos Condit. Lawler won all three, two via split decision. A fight like the one with MacDonald can leave a person different. And Lawler had three fights like that.
And then Woodley knocked him out at just 2:12 of Round 1.
“I think that Robbie shouldn’t fight until December or January,” Lawal said recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, as transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti for MMA Fighting. “Take time off, because these past two years, man, at the gym, Robbie’s been going to the max. Take some time to recharge, because Cerrone is a good fighter, it’s a great fight for the fans — why rush it? Cerrone ain’t going nowhere. Cerrone is always in shape, always ready. So once Robbie recharges, if Cerrone wants to fight Robbie, then they can fight.”
“Robbie, he’s always in shape. It’s just that, why rush it. The past two years, man, his schedule and his fights – man, take some time for your family, take some time for yourself. Recharge. After his last three fights, the following Monday he’s back in the gym, lifting weights or doing something. He really hasn’t stepped away from the gym. He has to be forced out by coach Kami, like, ‘hey, go home. Go do something. Go fish, go mow your lawn, go do something. Go swimming.’ They have to push him out of there because he always wants to be in there.”
Cerrone too understood.
“He came over and told me face-to-face, said, ‘I wanted to let you know man-to-man that this fight’s not happening,’” said Cerrone. “I was like, what are you talking about? He’s like, ‘yeah, just not going to do it.’ I said this is Madison Square Garden. If I was to step aside, a little piece of fan died in me. Like, damn, that’s a fight that I would love to watch. So it sucked, but he just said he’s got some s*** going on and wanted to let his head heal up a little more from the knockout he just had. So hey, I can’t make him fight.
“He’s still a friend of mine. He’s one of the good guys, man. … Something must be off. Robbie is not a guy that just doesn’t show up to fights, he’s one of the last of a dying breed, so something must really be an issue.”