Robbie Lawler's Place in MMA History

I wrote a comment that detailed some fun facts surrounding the bout between Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks.

You can find it here:

EDIT: Here it is, I won't make you dig it up.

- Lawler’s first fight in the UFC took place at UFC 37 in 2002 against Aaron Riley who retired earlier this year. Now, Lawler, BJ, and Yves Edwards are the only fighters on that card still in the UFC.

- UFC 37 took place in Bossier City, LA, a mere 3 hour drive away from Dallas where Lawler will meet Hendricks.

- In early-2002 when UFC 37 was taking place, GSP had just earned a stoppage victory in his first professional fight ever against Ivan Menjivar. Menjivar has been with the UFC since the WEC merger.

- Meanwhile, around this time Hendricks was a 18 year old 3-time state wrestling champion in Oklahoma about to enroll in OSU. It would be another 5 years before Hendricks would compete in his first professional fight.

- Another point of reference, current LHW champion Jon Jones was 14 years old when UFC 37 took place.

- Lawler will be the third former EliteXC Champion to compete for a UFC Title, Jake Shields and Bigfoot Silva are the other two.

- When Lawler and Hendricks meet, it will be just shy of 12 years since Lawler competed in his first UFC fight. Undoubtedly this will be the longest road to a championship bout for any fighter in the organization.

It was pretty well received so I felt compelled to write a little more on the subject. A fighter like Lawler is interesting mainly because of the longevity of his career but also because of his apparent reinvention as a fighter. It's crazy to think that someone who began fighting over a decade ago can not only stay relevant but go beyond that and contend for the championship. My first memory of Robbie Lawler is him getting choked out by Mayhem Miller in front of a 7000 seat crowd in Honolulu, Hawaii and it blows my mind to think that that fighter is now one win away from being crowned the best welterweight in the world. Very cool stuff. Sorry for rambling, here are your fun facts:

The last fight of Lawler's first stint in the UFC took place at UFC 50 in 2004 which was a submission loss to the late Evan Tanner. Tanner, like Hendricks, had been a high school state champion in wrestling. Tanner would go on to win the UFC MW championship two fights later while the then 22 year old Lawler would leave the UFC with a 4-3 record.

Also on that UFC 50 card was a bout for the WW title which had been vacated by BJ Penn after he signed with K-1. In that fight former WW champion Matt Hughes submitted up-and-comer GSP via arm bar. GSP would later beat Matt Hughes to claim the WW belt and then again to claim the interim WW championship at UFC 79 in 2007.

Earlier in 2007 over in Honolulu, Lawler had won the Icon MW championship by beating UFC veteran Frank Trigg (Trigg himself had lost 2 championship bouts to Hughes as well as a submission loss to GSP). This was Lawler's second time winning the Icon MW championship, after losing it the first time in the aforementioned fight against Mayhem Miller. Lawler had also won the Superbrawl MW championship (which was sort of an early iteration of Icon) in his first fight post-UFC. Lawler also fought in Pride's first card outside of Japan, Pride 32. Pride 32 featured the first fight between Dan Henderson and Vitor (which as you may remember was the fight where Vitor was popped for banned substances) as well as submission victories for Fedor and Shogun over Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman, respectively.

Rewinding back, a few months after UFC 50 Hendricks would beat Missouri's Tyron Woodley for the 2004-2005 Big-12 wrestling championship. Woodley's teammate at Missouri was none other than current One FC WW Ben Askren who has made more than a few headlines over the past couple months. Woodley himself would go on to join American Top Team and become teammates with Lawler.

Eventually, Lawler would leave Icon for EliteXC which shortly after went bankrupt. Strikeforce bought out his EliteXC contract and put him in a headline bout against Cesar Gracie fighter Jake Shields. Also on that card was Shield's teammate and the only man to KO Lawler in his career, Nick Diaz.

After Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa, Lawler rejoined the UFC, 8 years removed from his last fight with the organization. In his first fight back he surprised many with his KO victory over former number one contender Josh Koscheck. Interestingly, Koscheck is the only shared opponent that GSP, Hendricks and Lawler have faced; he is 0-4 (2 of the losses coming from GSP) against them. However, Lawler was the only one to finish Koscheck.

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