Robbie Lawler has 12 first-round finishes on his resume. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Robbie Lawler sees the substance beyond the buzz.
The “Ruthless” American Top Team standout will put his modest two-fight winning streak on the line against the fast-rising Rory MacDonald in a featured welterweight battle at UFC 167 “St. Pierre vs. Hendricks” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Some have pegged MacDonald as a future champion, and Lawler can understand why.
“He’s well-hyped because he wins fights, and he’s a great talent,” Lawler told Sherdog.com. “He should be hyped up because he’s really good. I need to be on point. He does everything well. His spacing is really good, he moves his feet well and he mixes it up with kicks and punches. He can get takedowns. He’s a well-rounded fighter. That’s why he’s ranked very high.”
A former EliteXC champion, Lawler last appeared at UFC on Fox 8 in July, when he knocked out Bobby Voelker with a second-round head kick and follow-up punches at Key Arena in Seattle. The 31-year-old has largely rebranded himself with a move to 170 pounds. A potent striker with devastating power, Lawler has delivered 18 of his 21 career wins by knockout or technical knockout. His list of victims includes 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland, Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Adlan Amagov, Dutch knockout artist Melvin Manhoef and Pride Fighting Championships veteran Murilo Rua.
Since succumbing to third-round blows from Carlos Condit in his sophomore Ultimate Fighting Championship appearance in June 2010, MacDonald has rattled off five consecutive victories. The 24-year-old former King of the Cage champion has not competed since he jabbed his way to a unanimous verdict over Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8 a little less than four months ago. MacDonald has compiled a 6-1 record since arriving in the UFC, including wins against “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 winner Nate Diaz and former two-division champion B.J. Penn.
Lawler grasps the seriousness of the challenge before him, along with the steps required to meet it.
“I just need to go out there and be me, fight hard, use my footwork and fight smart,” he said. “Pretty much everything comes down to moving my feet, and everything else will take care of itself. To hit people hard, you’ve got to have your feet under you and your balance right, so it starts with your legs.”
Lawler admits the structured environment present at American Top Team has made a difference in his resurgence.
“When I come down here, they tell me what to do [and] who I’m working with,” Lawler said. “They tell me when to show up and they take care of everything else. [There is a] lot of talent here to push me, to try to beat me up and get me ready.”
Donald Cerrone has grown accustomed to the perks.
In 20 combined appearances between World Extreme Cagefighting and the UFC, the “Cowboy” has been awarded 11 post-fight bonuses -- eight for “Fight of the Night,” two more for “Knockout of the Night” and another for “Submission of the Night” -- for a total of $455,000. Cerrone would like nothing more than to add to those figures when he collides with Evan Dunham on the UFC 167 undercard.
“Those just happen,” he told Sherdog.com. “It takes two to tangle. You’ve got to both be ready to do that.”
Dunham owns a 7-4 mark inside the Octagon, including wins over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Efrain Escudero and American Top Team’s Nik Lentz. Cerrone expects a stern test from the well-rounded Oregonian.
“He’s a good wrestler, in the scrambles and in the pocket,” Cerrone said. “His jiu-jitsu and top game is good. He likes to throw down and strike. I plan on being right in the middle of all that.”
This & That
After UFC 167, the MGM Grand Garden Arena will have held more Ultimate Fighting Championship events (26) than any other venue. The neighboring Mandalay Bay Events Center has hosted 25 of them ... Longtime welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has secured more takedowns (84), landed more total strikes (2,398) and executed more significant strikes (1,153) than any other fighter in UFC history, according to FightMetric figures ... Rashad Evans is one of 11 men to have held the UFC light heavyweight championship, along with Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Lyoto Machida, Mauricio Rua and Jon Jones ... Josh Koscheck was a four-time NCAA All-American at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, where he capped an undefeated junior season with a national championship in 2001. He amassed a 128-17 record at the school, where his .883 winning percentage still ranks second on the all-time list ... Russian flyweight Ali Bagautinov is a two-time combat sambo world champion ... Will Campuzano was involved in the UFC’s first-ever bantamweight match, submitting to a Nick Pace pillory choke at “The Ultimate Fighter 12” Finale in December 2010 ... A finalist in the 2009 Dream welterweight grand prix, Jason High has finished five different opponents in less than a minute: Troy Acker, Markhaile Wedderburn, Yuya Shirai, Rudy Bears and Nate Moore ... Four of Erik Perez’s five career losses have come by split decision ... When former Ring of Combat champion Gian Villante was born in Wantagh, N.Y., on Aug. 18, 1985, the top five movies at the domestic box office were “Back to the Future,” “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” “Volunteers,” “Return of the Living Dead” and “Year of the Dragon” ... Brian Ebersole has fought in six different countries: the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, South Africa and Japan ... Ed Herman is one of two members of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 cast still under contract with the UFC. Michael Bisping is the other.