For years, Robbie Lawler was mixed martial arts’ can’t-miss prospect who saved missing.
A rising star within the early days of the UFC’s Zuffa era, Lawler was hyped onerous as the subsequent huge factor.
But after practically a decade spent roaming from promotion to promotion as the man who by no means fairly lived as much as his potential, Lawler has develop into 2013’s best MMA redemption story. And with a win over highly touted welterweight Rory MacDonald on Saturday night at UFC 167 in Las Vegas, that lengthy-ago forecasted crack on the gold just would possibly come along in any case.
“I never lost sight of my objectives,” stated Lawler (21-9, 1 no-contest). “I never stopped considering I could attain the top. It was just a matter of getting my head in the best place.”
Lawler was barely 20 years old when he made his UFC debut with a unanimous-choice victory over Aaron Riley at UFC 37 in Could 2002. A pair of knockout wins in his next two fights established that he had thunder in his fists, and his fights were nights to circle on your calendar.
The young star rode with the game’s scorching camp of the moment: Miletich Combating Techniques in Bettendorf, Iowa. Run by the primary UFC a hundred and seventy-pound champion (the present welterweight title, known as light-weight at the time), Pat Miletich, the camp featured future UFC Hall of Famer after which-welterweight champ Matt Hughes, inaugural UFC 155-pound champ Jens Pulver and two-time heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.
Robbie Lawler (R) is pushed away from Bobby Voelker. (USA Right now)
The sky appeared to be the limit as Lawler gained his first seven profession fights, six of them knockouts in six minutes or less.
“You do not respect what you’ve got when it all comes to you real fast,” Lawler said. “I went from nothing to every little thing unexpectedly.”
But issues quickly modified. An upset loss to Pete Spratt at UFC forty two was his first taste of defeat. That was a string of three losses in 4 fights – together with a memorable face-plant knockout by the hands of Nick Diaz – and his UFC run was over just because it began.
Hughes, for his half, stuck with his good friend by the down occasions. However he did not sugarcoat what was occurring.
“He was a young child,” Hughes stated. “He was in his teenagers for his first combat in the UFC, or his first struggle for sure. It was good for him to mature [after leaving the UFC] and to determine that combating is a fairly good gig.”
Asked to pinpoint what went incorrect, Lawler says there was never a particular reason.
“There was by no means this massive ‘Behind the Music’ sort of low point,” mentioned Lawler. “I don’t spend an excessive amount of time trying back anyway, simply ahead. All I ever needed to do was hold combating.”
That he did. Lawler continued on his merry way. At times, he appeared like a world beater, together with a formidable performance in profitable the Elite XC middleweight title from Murilo “Ninja” Rua in 2007, and in spotlight-reel Strikeforce knockouts of Melvin Manhoef and Matt Lindland.
Other occasions? Nicely, there were losses to the likes of “Babalu” Sobral and Tim Kennedy. A loss in his remaining Strikeforce struggle to Lorenz Larkin in 2012 did not elevate large expectations for his UFC return after Strikeforce folded, either.
However Lawler knew this was his last probability on the huge-time. He left the gym he co-owns with Hughes in Illinois and joined one of the sport’s premier camps, the American Top Team in South Florida.
“That made all the difference on the earth,” said Lawler. “I used to have to worry about being the man in cost. Now I can simply focus on my battle and have my coaches care for the remainder.
Rory MacDonald has received his final 5 UFC fights. (USA At this time)
“I know you’ll be able to’t fight without end, and there is solely so long you can do this,” Lawler continued. “I do not battle for my legacy or for the glory or something like that. The suggestions from the fans is sweet, do not get me improper; it is a good feeling having them you on their aspect. However I am motivated by making a great dwelling for my family, and that’s what made me get severe about this.”
That angle has shown each inside and outdoors the cage. Lawler has put himself in place for Comeback Fighter of the 12 months in 2013 by dropping vintage “Ruthless” bombs on both Josh Koscheck, who Lawler knocked out at UFC 157, and in beating a game Bobby Voelker, who Lawler polished off in a July struggle.
Exterior, Lawler, who used to be infamous for dodging fans and giving reporters one-phrase answers, has grasped that combined martial artists who master the PR sport and treat the fans proper make more money than those who don’t.
“The very fact is, he is getting mature now,” Hughes mentioned. “He is seeing the bigger picture. He knows that doing the PR and stuff shouldn’t be an enormous deal, and he’s getting it completed.”
So Lawler heads to Las Vegas this week with an opportunity he by no means might need imagined. Again when the UFC was celebrating its tenth anniversary, Lawler was the golden youngster and a future champion. As the UFC celebrates its twentieth anniversary, Lawler is again within the image.
And with a win over the UFC’s current welterweight golden child in MacDonald, Lawler could discover his likelihood to prove the prognosticators right in spite of everything.
“This the battle I needed,” Lawler mentioned. “I want to problem myself. I don’t want any easy fights. Rory’s legit, Rory goes to deliver it, and I plan on bringing it right back to him. He is an awesome fighter, but right now he’s the man who’s in the best way of my objectives.”
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