COMMENTARY | Robbie Lawler began his career with a pretty impressive run by winning 16 of his first 20 fights.
Following that run, Lawler left the defunct Elite XC for Strikeforce, and with that move found a bit of a struggle. During Lawler's time in Strikeforce, he was only able to win three of his eight fights.
So when it was announced that Lawler would return to the UFC, you could not blame many fans and pundits for having low expectations for the 31-year-old fighter. Lawler was welcomed back to the UFC with a fight at welterweight, a weight class he had not competed in since 2004.
Moving to welterweight may be just what the doctor ordered, because now Lawler has won back-to-back fights -- both in impressive fashion.
Lawler's first fight back in the UFC was against a very tough Josh Koscheck back in February at UFC 157. Lawler was able to stun everyone with a first-round TKO victory over the former welterweight title challenger. Some may say the fight was stopped early, but it is hard to deny that Koscheck went limp even if it was brief.
During UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Moraga in Seattle on July 27, Lawler won again. This time, Lawler met Bobby Voelker. Lawler was impressive yet again, scoring a head-kick KO victory over Voelker in the second round. Lawler looked impressive in this fight. His striking was very tight and technical and his timing was fluid.
Moving back to welterweight was absolutely the right choice for Lawler. He is a powerful striker with knockout power in both hands. Lawler will also be one of the bigger welterweights in the division. which can be a great advantage to have when it comes time to step into the octagon on fight night. The move may also be at a time where Lawler is moving into the prime of his career.
Going into the fight with Voelker, Lawler was ranked as the ninth-best welterweight in the UFC. While Voelker was not a top 10 opponent, the impressive victory he earned should move him into a position to face a top five welterweight in his next fight.
While Lawler is re-establishing his reputation in the UFC, he still a has more to prove. Demian Maia was pulled from the August UFC 163 because of injury to his scheduled opponent. With that being said, Maia would be a great next opponent for Lawler. There is little doubt that Lawler's striking is up to par with anyone in the welterweight division but in a fight with Maia, his grappling would be put to the test.
Another great potential fight for Lawler would be a bout with Nick Diaz. Diaz is on hiatus so the fight is a longshot, but it would be great to see them fight again. Diaz and Lawler fought in 2004, early in their careers. Both fighters are on different levels now compared to their 2004 counterparts.
Rory MacDonald, who also won at UFC on FOX: Johnson vs Moraga, could be another potential opponent; MacDonald, though, is likely looking for a fight with the winner of UFC 167's Georges St-Pierre versus Johny Hendricks title bout.
The power Lawler possesses in his hands make him a dangerous opponent for anyone. In a division where there are not many power punchers, he has to be in the same breath as a Johny Hendricks, who is considered by many as the most dangerous one-punch striker in the welterweight division. With that skill comes a different dynamic that sets him apart from other potential title challengers.
Do not misunderstand, anyone can be hit and knocked out, just ask Anderson Silva. However, not everyone has the ability to drop guys like a Lawler or a Hendricks. Lawler is likely two more fights away from even being in title fight talk, but if his last two fights are a indication of things to come, Lawler could be fighting for a title as early as next summer.
Greg Garcia has been covering MMA since 2009 on various sites and has covered live events in Texas held by the UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator. Read more from Greg here.
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