The bond and relationship between a coach and a fighter is unlike any other, and UFC welterweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler knows all about this. Known for his powerful and relentless striking, Lawler has been crafted by his longtime boxing coach Matt Pena, who has worked with the champion since 2005 when Lawler was coming up in the Miletich Fighting System.
Lawler now trains at American Top Team in Boca Raton, Florida where Pena makes the trip during fight camps, and since returning to the UFC in 2013, the “Ruthless” one has looked nothing short of spectacular. He put this on full display this past weekend (July 11, 2015) at UFC 189, defending his title against Rory MacDonald in one of the best fights of all-time. The two men battled back and forth in a bloody war, until the champion landed his patented left hand in the final frame to end the fight.
Lawler definitely proved his worth, but it looks as if he will now have to go on without Pena. Speaking with ESPN.com, Pena has announced that he will be resigning as Lawler’s boxing coach. He mentioned that the only things left he wanted to see were Lawler entering the hall of fame, and the “Ruthless” one beating Georges St. Pierre, but with GSP still in his semi-retirement, Pena claims there is nothing left for him:
“It is with deep regret that I’m resigning as boxing coach for Robbie Lawler, ending over 10 years of dedication to the UFC welterweight champion,” Pena said. “I have received tremendous satisfaction knowing that I am one of the few that told people years ago that he was the best welterweight in the world.
“There are really only two things left that I’ve wanted to help accomplish in the sport of MMA. One was watching Robbie enter the Hall of Fame, which I’m sure he will at the end of his reign. The only other thing I wanted to do was help him get a win over Georges St-Pierre, who I’m sure will never come back after what he saw on Saturday. So, it’s safe to say I’ve done all I can do in this sport as a boxing coach.”
Continuing on, Pena thanked numerous fighters who have contributed to his career, and expressed his honor of coaching three UFC champions and proving his grandfather’s style of boxing could work in mixed martial arts (MMA). In closing, the coach said that his reasons for resigning will be kept between him and Lawler:
“I would like to thank Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Tim Silvia and Spencer Fisher for giving me an opportunity of proving the effectiveness of my grandfather, Alvino Pena’s, boxing style in the sport of MMA. I’ve helped three men get UFC championships and was privileged to work with a couple of other champions during their career. I know that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with legends, a small group of athletes in Iowa who became the best in the world.
“My reasons for stepping away, I will keep private right now. The only folks that I feel are entitled to that information are me and Robbie.”
Will Lawler look any different without his longtime coach by his side?