Before Conor McGregor faced Nate Diaz at UFC 196, there was a rumor that a win would propel the Irishman into a welterweight title bout against Robbie Lawler at UFC 200.
Of course, such a bout never came to fruition because Diaz submitted McGregor in the second round of their March 5 encounter, setting the stage for their upcoming rematch at UFC 202 on Aug. 20.
However, while on a media tour in June to promote his title clash with Tyron Woodley, Lawler was asked about the hypothetical matchup with “The Notorious” one.
"I wasn't too worried about it. Obviously that was a big fight. He's a big draw but it wouldn't have been good for him,” Lawler told WSB-TV in Atlanta.
“Because if I hurt him, I wasn’t taking his neck,” Lawler added.
Then came the comment that resonated throughout the MMA community, as the host asked the welterweight champion to elaborate on just what he would have taken.
“His soul,” Lawler said.
Now, with UFC 201 and his title defense against Woodley just days away, Lawler explained the motivation behind those chilling comments.
“He asked me a question and I was like, ‘Why are you bringing this guy’s name up?’ It kind of irritated me, so I just told him what I thought about the situation and his last fight,” Lawler said Wednesday on UFC Tonight. “I don’t think he should be mentioned with me because I’m not like everybody else. I’m a little different.”
Since capturing welterweight gold with a victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 181, Lawler has cemented himself as a must-see attraction with each title defense. His last two bouts, victories over Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald, were both “Fight of the Year” classics.
Lawler doesn’t feel pressure to top those fights when he faces Woodley on Saturday in the UFC 201 headliner at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
“I’m not trying to outdo my performance necessarily; I’m trying to be a better fighter every time I compete,” he said. “It’s all about being more strategic and looking for a way to get a finish.”
While Lawler would prefer to have a shorter night against Woodley, he claims that the extended battles he’s had in recent years haven’t shortened his career. Even though he would prefer to get a quick stoppage, he’s well aware how difficult that can be at the highest levels of UFC competition.
“They’re not taking a toll. Obviously you want to get in there and get out as soon as possible and be as clean as possible,” he said. “So that’s always the goal: to go in there and beat somebody up, not take any damage and be sharp and impose your will on somebody. But these guys aren’t backing down; they’re fighting for what I have. I know they’re going to be bringing their A-game.”