Robbie Lawler will return to action this Saturday at UFC 171, as he attempts to capture UFC gold for the first time in his storied MMA career. ‘Ruthless’ will face Johny Hendricks for the vacant welterweight strap at the main event in Dallas, Texas. Lawler has had an incredible 32 fights as a pro, and he will need to use all of that experience to overcome the hungry ‘Bigg Rigg’ this Saturday.
Hendricks was unsuccessful in his UFC 167 attempt at Georges St-Pierre’s title, but without a doubt he proved to be the biggest challenge to GSP in recent times. The decision was quite controversial, but I imagine it will only make ‘Bigg Rigg’ step up his game for Lawler.
So what chance does ‘Ruthless’ have of gaining his first ever UFC title at 171? Well, his style is very adjusted from his old ways; firstly, it appears that game planning is a big part of his strategy. Against Rory MacDonald, Lawler showed a good balance of aggression and technical fighting abilities.
‘Ruthless’ showed he can outbox one of the most technical fighters today in his victory over ‘Ares’, but wrestling defense will also be a huge factor against his opponent at 171. Hendricks is a former NCAA All-American wrestler, and has some of the best MMA wrestling in the game.
One thing Lawler showed in his fight against Josh Koscheck is that he can overcome superior grapplers. Early on at UFC 157, Kos had him down on the mat and was grinding ‘Ruthless’ against the cage. Three minutes later, Koscheck had his head pummelled in to the mat. If Lawler has worked hard enough, he may be able to keep this fight standing where he has the best chance of winning.
The truth is that the title fight at UFC 171 is a real toss-up, and I’m finding it hard to separate the two. If Hendricks drags this fight to the mat, it will be a long night for Lawler. That being said, we have seen so much improvement in Lawler’s defense and strategy that the ground game may not even be a factor.
I think that Lawler’s chances of victory at this Saturday’s main event are good, but Hendricks has the advantage in the wrestling domain. ‘Bigg Rigg’ also has very heavy hands, maybe even up to the par of ‘Ruthless’. Who do you think will emerge the champion at 171?
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