Two weeks away from his third defense of the UFC welterweight title when he meets Tyron Woodley in the main event of July 30’s UFC 201 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s safe to say Robbie Lawler has never looked better in his 15-year MMA career than he has fighting out of American Top Team (ATT) in South Florida.
There’s just one strange aspect about that and his upcoming bout with Woodley, however, as “The Chosen One” has actually been a member of the ATT family longer than “Ruthless” has.
Still, that doesn’t mean Lawler considers his opponent a teammate, an opinion he detailed by describing Woodley’s, who owns an ATT gym in his home of Missouri, locational differences during the UFC 201 media lunch earlier this week (transcribed by FOX Sports):
“Woodley was there before me, he’s been part of ATT (American Top Team) long before I got there, but he hasn’t been down in Coconut Creek doing his training camps. Like I don’t think he’s been down there for two years and he was rarely down there before so I don’t really look at him as a teammate.”
Lawler continued on with his view of a teammate, which was not surprisingly someone helping you improve your abilities day in and day out. The champ trains in a different city than Woodley, and that’s just not something that their far-off relationship involves:
“A teammate’s a guy who’s in there everyday grinding, making other guys better, and building the atmosphere. He’s definitely part of the ATT family but he’s not one of my teammates.”
While that could be a small barb at Woodley, it could also be a simple statement of fact from the somber, aggressive champion.
Lawler has looked reinvented at Coconut Creek, so it’s no surprise that he’s favored to defend his belt once again. After his UFC 192 bout with former champion Johny Hendricks was canceled due to “Bigg Rigg” missing weight and being rushed to the hospital, “The Chosen One” has been out of action since his close split decision win over Kelvin Gastelum in January of last year.
He’s won two of his last three with a dominant loss to No. 2-ranked Rory MacDonald, who Lawler sent packing in a bloody back-and-forth battle last summer at UFC 189, and is 4-2 over his last six overall.
But even though the odds tilt in Lawler’s favor, we’ve seen many UFC title bouts end in an upset, and both of these fighters have the power to put out any competitor’s lights.
Expect “Ruthless” to be willing to use that come July 30, as this fight isn’t quite the ‘teammate vs. teammate’ contest that’s it’s bueing built as.