LowKick MMA’s 2014 Fighter Of The Year – “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler

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Although it was a brutal year for the UFC regarding the plethora of injuries to champions and name fighters that caused many main and co-main events to be scrapped, a few choice fighters put forth their best efforts in 2014 and had very an amazing year.

Naming a fighter of the year can be very difficult. Having success inside of the Octagon for just one fight isn’t an easy thing to do, but to be successful over the duration of an entire year is another story.

When thinking of fighter of the year for 2014, two names instantly come to my mind. Those two would be current UFC welterweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and surging lightweight contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.

After a triumphant return to the UFC in 2013 that saw him score three huge wins over Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voelker, and Rory MacDonald, Lawler earned a title shot against Johny Hendricks in March. “Ruthless,” however, was not able to start the year off how he wanted, losing by unanimous decision  in a close five-round war.

Lawler could’ve dwelled on this loss, but instead, the American Top Team (ATT) product got right back to work. He viciously knocked out Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173 last May and scored a decision win over Matt Brown in a five-round slugfest at UFC on FOX 12 last July. These two huge wins lined “Ruthless” up for another title shot to close out the year.

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This time, Lawler rose to the occasion. In yet another five-round back and forth battle, he was able to steal the welterweight title from Hendricks with a split decision win at UFC 181 to finally complete his long and difficult road to UFC gold.

Although “Cowboy” Cerrone did not end the year atop his division like Lawler did, he also had a spectacular year. After losing twice in 2013 to current champion Anthony Pettis and top contender Rafael Dos Anjos, Cerrone won four times in 2014 to keep his name in the title picture.

“Cowboy” started the year off with a lethal first-round head kick knockout of Adriano Martins at UFC on FOX 10 in January. He followed that up with a spectacular first round submission win over dangerous striker Edson Barboza at UFC on FOX 11 last April.

To keep the finishes coming, Cerrone took out fellow veteran Jim Miller at UFC Fight Night 45 in July with yet another head kick that was precluded by a vicious front kick to the body. To finish the year off, ‘Cowboy” grabbed his biggest win over former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. Cerrone welcomed Alvarez to the UFC at UFC 178 in September, winning a stand-up battle that saw “Cowboy” get the better end of the exchanges and secure a decision win.

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Three finishes in four fights is quite a year for Cerrone, who has been on absolute tear. He definitely made a convincing case for fighter of the year.

Although there is some argument as to whether Men’s MMA and Women’s MMA should be grouped together when it comes to awards like this, the fact is that they are. That being said, women’s champion Ronda Rousey could also make a claim for fighter of the year.

Rousey continued her dominance over the women’s bantamweight division in 2014, and although she only fought twice, she looked absolutely spectacular. In two fights, the “Rowdy” one spent less than two minutes fighting and scored two lethal finishes.

She started her year off by dispatching former Olympic wrestler Sara McMann in just over a minute at UFC 170 last February with a devastating knee to the body. She then fought again in July at UFC 175, needing only 16 seconds to put top contender Alexis Davis away. Rousey landed a big shot on the feet followed by a huge hip toss and punches on the ground to score a knockout victory.

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Despite fighting less than both Lawler and Cerrone, Rousey put forth a dominant year and showed why she is the very best woman fighter on the planet.

It is a tough one to call for 2014’s fighter of the year, but I would have to go with “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. After losing in his first title fight this year, he came back a vengeance and ended the year with the belt strapped around his waist.

The comeback and ruthlessness that Lawler showed inside of just one year should be enough to gain him this award. However, the other two can’t be counted out and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these three were to win the award.

Who do you think is 2014’s fighter of the year? Is it Lawler, Rousey, or Cerrone, or do you have a completely different pick?

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports