UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler has been making his bones as a knockout artist for over a decade.
The “Ruthless” one was a young brawler coming up in the UFC in the early 2000s, then jumped around to a variety of major organizations for the rest of the decade. Fighting for Pride, Icon Sport, EliteXC, and Strikeforce, one aspect of his fights was always the same: the heavy-handed slugger would look to take his opponent’s head off, and he had the power to do it.
But Lawler was plagued by inconsistency throughout his career. He failed to live up to expectations early on and fell to many of the elite fighters he faced. After each misstep, fans and pundits wondered if the athleticism, fighting spirit, and killer instinct would ever be enough to propel Lawler to the heights that he had seemed preordained to reach.
Since returning to welterweight in his latest UFC run, Lawler has undergone a renaissance. No longer is defense an afterthought for the former Miletich Fighting Systems and HIT Squad battler. The “Ruthless” one has become a much craftier striker while retaining his concussive power. His refined approach to fighting has granted Lawler a measure of consistency he had lacked for years, and enabled him to ascend to the top of the division. It has been a miraculous run few would have predicted a few short years ago.
Lawler will make his latest UFC title defense against Tyron Woodley in the UFC 201 headliner on July 30 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. As Lawler’s next epic fight draws closer, let us look back on his tumultuous career and the path he cut to finally reach the top.