Robbie Lawler’s reputation as a mixed martial arts action hero precedes him.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder will make his 2017 debut when he collides with Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay Donald Cerrone in a three-round battle that promises fireworks at UFC 214 this Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. It marks Lawler’s first appearance since he relinquished his hold on the 170-pound throne in a knockout loss to Tyron Woodley a little less than a year ago. The defeated halted a five-fight winning streak that saw him best Jake Ellenberger, Matt Brown, Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit in consecutive appearances, the last three of which resulted in all-time classics. In addition to the UFC championship, Lawler has captured titles within the EliteXC and Icon Sport organizations.
As he prepares for his hotly anticipated three-round showdown with Cerrone, here are five things you might not know about the “Ruthless” one:
1. He is a homebody in MMA terms.
Even though his career has taken him through 11 promotions, 16-plus years and nearly 40 fights, Lawler has never fought outside of the United States.
2. Not many have walked where he has walked.
Lawler is one of nine men who have laid claim to the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight crown. Woodley, Hendricks, Pat Miletich, Carlos Newton, Matt Hughes, B.J. Penn, Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra are the others.
3. He arrived on the scene at a young age.
Spawned by the star-studded Miletich Fighting Systems camp, Lawler made his professional mixed martial arts debut at an Extreme Challenge event on April 7, 2001, a little more than two weeks after his 19th birthday. He stopped John Reed with punches just 2:14 into their bout in what was the first of 12 first-round finishes he has authored.
4. His notoriously heavy hands, knees and shins have yielded some expected results.
According to FightMetric, Lawler ranks third among active UFC welterweights in knockdowns landed with nine. Only Thiago Alves (13) and the aforementioned Ellenberger (11) have more.
5. He has never shied away from stiff competition.
The 11 men who have defeated Lawler -- Woodley, Hendricks, Lorenz Larkin, Tim Kennedy, Ronaldo Souza, Renato Sobral, Jake Shields, Jason Miller, Evan Tanner, Nick Diaz and Pete Spratt -- have 274 career wins between them. He suffered single losses in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 while losing twice in 2004 and 2011.