UFC 181: Robbie Lawler Credits Championship Win to Digging “Deep”, Saturday and Years Prior
By Kelsey Mowatt
If you had told someone back in 2012 that Robbie Lawler would be UFC Welterweight Champion by the end of 2014, chances are you would have been met with a blank stare, laughter or an insult. But, as the year comes to an end, the man who at one point was regarded by some as a dangerous, journeyman, is UFC champion.
Of course, Lawler has done nothing but impress since he returned to the UFC last year. Following his decision loss to Lorenz Larkin under the Strikeforce banner in 2012, Lawler has dropped down from 185 to 170, improved his conditioning, and overall game. Clearly all the work the feared slugger has put in has paid off, as Lawler has gone 6-1, and won the sport’s most coveted welterweight titles.
While speaking to FOX Sports 1 after his split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 181, Lawler stated (quote via FOX Sports press release):
“I really had to dig deep. It didn’t just happen today, it was a lot of years of hard work in the gym and it paid off today. This is awesome. There’s a lot of people behind me. This isn’t just about me. ATT was behind me the whole way. I’ve been there for two years and look at me today.”
While Lawler is the talk of MMA today, last night’s contest was far from one sided. Lawler came out strong to begin the bout, but Hendricks took over the fight’s mid rounds with his striking and wrestling.
But, “Ruthless” kept coming, and after landing some telling shots in round four, he came out in round five in search of a finish. It was a reversal from what went down in their first meeting back in March, as Hendricks poured it on the final round to take the decision victory.
“That’s what happened last time,” Lawler told FOX Sports 1. “He finished a lot stronger at the end and got the victory and I wanted to finish him and I really tried to beat him up at the end. I wanted to be the better guy at the end.”
“I thought I was going to dominate and knock him out, but he’s tough and it was a hell of a fight once again.”
And what was Lawler’s plan of attack for his second run in with Hendricks?
The plan was to get out there and beat him up, stuff his takedowns and make him pay. I did a good job creating damage, dirty boxing and beating him up. I feel like I won it.”
While there are many who believe Hendricks did enough to retain the belt, there’s no question that Lawler’s 2014 campaign was one of the most memorable the sport witnessed this year.