It may have just been a matter of time.
After authoring back-to-back “Fight of the Year” performances in his first two welterweight title defenses — and having a few other grueling five-round battles in recent years, as well — Robbie Lawler’s defenses crumbled under the force of one Tyron Woodley overhand right at UFC 201.
Woodley floored the notoriously durable Lawler with that punch and quickly followed up with a few follow-up blows to close the book on the “Ruthless” title reign 2:12 into the opening round of Saturday’s headliner at the Philips Arena in Atlanta.
“I feel alright. I mean obviously he caught me with the ol’ T-Wood bomb,” Lawler said. “I was just sitting back a little too much and he took advantage of it. It was his night.”
Where Lawler had started slowly in recent bouts against Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald only to finish with a flurry, Woodley simply didn’t give him a chance to pull off any more championship round magic.
“I think right at the end he feinted and I reached with my hands and he threw a punch over the top. He took an advantage of an opportunity,” Lawler said.
Savvy observers might have seen it coming after Lawler absorbed so much damage in recent years. At 34 years old and with only one KO/TKO loss in 38 previous bouts, there was always the possibility that Lawler’s chin would eventually fail him. However, Lawler himself dismissed that possibility that wear-and-tear might have finally taken its toll.
“I think it’s just a guy who took advantage of a big punch and rocked me and jumped on me and finished the job,” he said. “I’m not gonna speculate on that. I felt great going into the fight. So no excuses.”
Lawler also reiterated that having to face an opponent with American Top Team affiliations was not an issue at all.
“I’m a mean individual and this is what I do for a living, so I would’ve had no problem doing the same to him,” Lawler said.
For now, Lawler doesn’t have a next move in mind. But given his recent track record, he believes a quick return to title contention — even a rematch — is warranted.
“Obviously I think if I went back in there I’d get a win,” he said. “Deserve and actually getting are two different things, but yeah I feel like I deserve something. But we’ll see if I get it.”