With his third straight UFC win, Robbie Lawler is once again considered one of the most dangerous welterweights in the world. And if things play out the way he sees fit, “Ruthless” may also soon be a UFC champion.
“I feel great,” Lawler said following his UFC 167 win over Rory MacDonald.
Lawler (22-9 MMA, 7-3 UFC) – still incredibly just 31 years old despite competing professionally since 2001 and boasting a 2002 UFC debut – is a former EliteXC middleweight champion whose knockout power is legendary in MMA circles. UFC President Dana White famously was responsible for brining the slugger to the octagon in 2002, but after seven fights in the promotion, he bolted in search of better pay.
“I’m the one that brought Robbie Lawler into the UFC, and I was 100 percent behind this kid when he came in,” White remembered. “Robbie Lawler, when he was younger, all he gave a s–t about was making money. ‘I want to fight where whoever is going to pay me the most money. I need money.’
“And there were so many times that Robbie and I had talked throughout the years when he fought for other organizations, and he’d be like, ‘I want to come back and fight for you guys. I want to come back and fight in the UFC.’ I said, ‘Kid, it makes no sense. I’m not going to pay you what these guys are paying you. It doesn’t make sense here. They need you over there, and they’ve got to pay you to keep you.’”
And so Lawler fought for EliteXC, PRIDE, the IFL and King of the Cage, among others. In 2009, he signed with Strikeforce and fought eight times for the organization before it was purchased by the UFC, bringing him back under White’s watch. He immediately dropped from middleweight to 170 pounds and has looked fantastic since in wins over MacDonald, Bobby Voelker and Josh Koscheck. White credits a new focus for Lawler’s resurgence.
“He’s a completely different animal,” White said. “He’s not even about money. He doesn’t even talk about money anymore. Now it’s about winning that title.
“As he’s getting older now, he’s not his young, crazy kid anymore. He’s got a wife, he’s got kids, and now he’s about, ‘Before this opportunity goes away, I want to take a run at the title,’ and he’s doing it. Very impressive.”
Of course, the UFC’s welterweight title picture is in a bit of disarray at the moment. Longtime champ Georges St-Pierre on Saturday night said he believes a little time away from the sport would do him good, but White later said the future Hall of Famer won’t be on the shelf for any extended period of time and will instead book a rematch with the man who nearly defeated him at UFC 167, Johny Hendricks.
But if anything changes with those plans, Lawler has an alternative idea.
“I think we should probably do if Georges takes off for a half a year or a year, Hendricks and I fight for an interim title, and when Georges comes back, I’ll beat him up, too,” Lawler said. “Let’s do this.”