Where Does Robbie Lawler Go From Here?

Where Does Robbie Lawler Go From Here?

Photo via: Bleacher Report

No question couldn’t be more negative, but then again, everybody’s got to be prepared for the worst. And speaking of the worst, nobody could be more familiar to the concept than Robbie Lawler himself.

This Saturday December 6th at UFC 181, “Ruthless” will get another crack at the UFC Welterweight championship currently in the hands of Johny Hendricks. This one is going to be roughly nine months removed from the exciting, back-and-forth, Fight of the Year material, war at UFC 171.

Going into the rematch, however, Lawler carries a much more significant momentum than he bore the last time around.

Since the March 15 event at Dallas, the American Top Team standout chose to lick the losing wounds his own way– opting to fight two more times against top-10 fixtures Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown, before indulging in a rematch with his one-time conqueror. On the other hand, “Bigg Rigg” did nothing but rehabilitate a torn biceps he suffered prior to the March 15 bout and has been on the mend since.

Robbie Lawler (right) and Johny Hendricks (left) figured in one of the best fights in 2014. Photo via: UFC Fight Club

Going back a year, the former EliteXC middleweight champion has competed against the best 170-pounders in the world, knocking out Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker while eking out a split decision win over Rory MacDonald. The loss to Hendricks is an aberration, if you will, to one of the best welterweight runs in recent memory, rivaling only Georges St. Pierre and Hendricks himself.

But as it is, the pressure is on Lawler himself and if he failed to wrest away the gold come Saturday, his chances could be all but up. Lawler has been in the sport since he was a teenager and received considerable buzz as the next big one in the division. Then years and years of near-futility went by (although he became the EliteXC 185 champion in 2007) and Lawler became more of a cautionary tale of unfulfilled potential than a feel-good story. When Strikeforce got bought by Zuffa, everybody thought the Dana White and the Fertittas are simply hauling excess baggage.

Lawler, however, experienced a rebirth of some sort, rising from the proverbial ashes while flashing the same feared knockout power along with a wonderfully improved grappling defense. His renaissance story ate up spaces of headlines in sports portals everywhere but really, it can only be justified with a win at UFC 181. There’s no other way.

If he loses, he will be relegated to the unwritten role of a divisional “gatekeeper”, a derogatory term which basically meant he’s good enough to contend, but somehow missing the essential ingredient to become a champion.

I’m sure Lawler knows, that’s why he’s planning to “dominate” the Oklahoma State alum in all facets of the game. To him, it’s all black and white.

“I’m looking to make it one-sided, plain and simple,” Lawler said via Yahoo! Sports. “My coaches have done a good job of preparing me in a lot of situations that Johny is really good at. I feel powerful. I’m a better fighter than the last time. I’m stronger, I’m faster and I’m more technically sound.

“I’m looking to dominate. I’m not looking to go back-and-forth with Johny.”

While that may not exactly happen, it’s obvious that the Coconut Creek-based slugger knows this fight is more important to him than it is to Hendricks. He understands the implications that may result in win or even a loss for that matter. He should take a lesson or two from “Beefcake” Joe Benavidez, who has fought and lost twice for the flyweight title and the next chance may only arrive if a.) he moves up in weight (highly unlikely) and b.) Demetrius Johnson is no longer the champion (which pretty much is next to impossible at this point).

Lawler would not want to wait on things he can’t control and one thing that is in his grasp come Saturday in Las Vegas is the coveted 12 pounds of UFC gold. His job may be intact whatever the outcome is but opportunities like this may not come knocking a third time.

For Robbie Lawler. it’s now or never.

Jan Obguia

Just an average Joe that prides about the fact that he played basketball on all three of the biggest island groups in the Philippines. Enjoys eating and 70s music as much as the next guy, but thinks there isn’t a more delightful thing in the world than learning. For comments, reactions, suggestions, let Jan Rey know below.