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Robbie Lawler: PED accusations are Rory MacDonald ‘finding a different way to cope’

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Robbie Lawler - Rory MacDonald
Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler faced off in an all-time classic at UFC 189.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Robbie Lawler shrugged off plenty of big shots during his epic UFC 189 encounter with Rory MacDonald back in 2015. Now, he’s shrugging off a few more.

Lawler’s memorable victory over MacDonald was thrust under the microscope in August when the Bellator star wrote in a Reddit AMA that he was “convinced” Lawler was taking performance-enhancing drugs for the pair’s championship rematch at UFC 189. MacDonald ultimately fell just inches short in his second bid against Lawler, losing via fifth-round TKO after being up on the scorecards in a contest that many have called one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

The performance has since become one of the most celebrated achievements of Lawler’s 17-year career, and “Ruthless” isn’t worried about MacDonald trying to sully it.

“I think he’s just kinda trying to figure out why things happened the way they happened,” Lawler said this week on The TSN MMA Show when asked about MacDonald’s PED accusations. “And he’s finding a different way to cope with it.”

While MacDonald failed to elaborate on his original point in the Reddit AMA, he did follow up on the conversation last month in an interview with MMA Fighting, explaining that the way Lawler pushed through the damage inflicted upon him without losing steam is what made MacDonald initially suspicious of foul play.

“[Lawler] never slowed down,” MacDonald told MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi. “I would hurt him and his output was high, high, high and he never really lost power and endurance. He just kept the pace and kept the power no matter how hurt or tired he was. He always was recovered very fast. It made me very suspicious.

“Obviously, I think Robbie is a tank of a person. He’s got that fire and that will and the rage and that anger in him that burns and pushes him through those hard moments. He’s an absolute warrior. I’m not disagreeing with that. But I do believe he was taking some sh*t.”

MacDonald also noted that he was not “crying about it” and was simply trying to answer questions as honestly as he could.

“The Red King” has repeatedly credited his second loss to Lawler for changing the course of his career in a positive way, and has since rebounded to become one of the leading faces of Bellator MMA. MacDonald is currently slated to challenge Douglas Lima for the Bellator welterweight title on Jan. 20 at Bellator 192.

Lawler, meanwhile, is back on a title hunt of his own, scheduled to face Rafael dos Anjos in a No. 1 contender’s fight on Dec. 16 in the main event of UFC on FOX 26. And Lawler brushed off any suggestion that his constitution against MacDonald was in any way out of the ordinary, noting that that’s just how he fights.

“I was getting hurt,” Lawler said. “Obviously, I got stung by a head kick, and he cut my lip with an elbow. But all you have in the end is your will to fight.”