Sadly, it appears Robbie Lawler’s days as a top-tier UFC welterweight are over.
Coming off three straight losses, Lawler squared off with Neil Magny on Saturday night in what many believed to be a pivotal moment for the former 170lbs champion’s career. The fight looked likely to go one of two ways – either a steaming resurgence or another lacklustre, lop-sided defeat. Lawler’s destiny was always at risk of being determined by whichever scenario played out in this bout.
Take home the victory against the ever-game Magny and we could all see Lawler hangin’ with the best of ‘em for a while longer at least. Get dominated and lose his fourth in a row and we might be seeing the beginning of the end for a guy who was the undisputed best in the world just four years ago.
Lawler lost every round on the judges’ scorecards.
Since losing his belt to Tyron Woodley back in 2016, Lawler just hasn’t been the same fighter and, in each outing, he’s looked a little more jaded than the last.
Coming into the bout, Lawler knew he needed the win to get himself back where he wants to be in the rankings. However, the Florida native looked slow and lethargic, struggling to put his combinations together and rarely finding the target cleanly.
Alarmingly, Lawler also seemed to get outmuscled, with Magny proving too strong in some of the grappling exchanges. This is unfamiliar territory for Lawler who’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the best wrestlers and BJJ practitioners in the division’s history.
So where has it all gone wrong for “Ruthless”? Perhaps it’s just a simple case of Father Time catching up with this true veteran of the sport. Since making his professional debut way back in 2001, Lawler’s now been making the rounds for 19 years. That’s a long time to be fighting in MMA.
After returning to the UFC from Strikeforce in 2013, Lawler went on a murderous run, defeating some of the welterweight division’s most feared fighters to claim the 170lbs gold. The resurgence was one of the most unlikely in the sport’s history and his never-say-die attitude, coupled with his ability to switch from a polite, well-spoken gentleman into a blood-thirsty wreaker of havoc in next to no time endeared Lawler to fight fans and transformed him into a cult hero within the MMA community.
Classic bouts against Johny Hendricks and Rory McDonald further cemented his legacy and made him one of the sport’s most exciting fighters, but since losing his belt to Woodley Lawler now has just one win in four years – a debatable decision victory over Donald Cerrone that many thought he should’ve lost.
For fans of Lawler, this crushing defeat will be another hammer blow and further proof that the Lawler of yesteryear is gone. While there are certainly fights in the division he can still win, sadly his days as a top-tier welterweight appear to be finished.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and Lawler’s return to form was certainly exciting while it lasted. For any Lawler fans looking to reminisce in the good old days, go and re-watch his unforgettable bout against McDonald at UFC 189. Just thinking about that contest is enough to put hairs on the back of your neck!