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Morning Report: Robbie Lawler discusses why he left ATT, possible future fight with Georges St-Pierre

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Robbie Lawler Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

For the better part of two years, Robbie Lawler was the man at 170 pounds. But then last year, a vicious right hook from Tyron Woodley separated Lawler from his consciousness and unseated the champ from atop the welterweight heap. Now, almost a year later, Lawler is finally ready to get back into the octagon in a crackerjack matchup against Donald Cerrone at UFC 213 on July 8.

Though the fight is still several weeks away, Lawler sat down with Brett Okamoto on the 5ive Rounds podcast where he talked about his upcoming return to the cage, why he chose to take such an extended break from the sport, and what his motivation is in returning.

“I’m just looking to have a good time and win fights and knock people out,” said Lawler. “That’s what I’ve been doing but I think I just wanted to hang out with my family a little bit more and spend some time with my son and do those types of things for a little bit. But you don’t really know with the UFC what you’re getting fight-wise. It seemed like when I first got back with the UFC it was just, ‘win fight, win fights and you get a title shot.’ So hopefully that’s still the case and we’ll see.”

The MMA world is a much different place since Lawler last competed. The past year has seen the advent of a plethora of “money fights” - champions looking to have the most publicly appealing fight possible instead of following the general meritocracy that had mostly dictated the UFC’s dominance of the sport. Lawler has taken notice of this trend in his absence and says he hopes it’s not the case but acknowledges that he’s a long way from getting back to the title right now.

“You never know what direction they’re going but first things first, I’ve got to win a fight and we’ll see after that.”

One of the directions the UFC may go is with former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. St-Pierre was set to face Michael Bisping later this year but that fight looks to be in jeopardy and instead, St-Pierre may look to just compete in marquee fights against the biggest names possible and a fight with Lawler might fit that bill. It’s a bout that was envisioned by fans many years ago when both fighters were fresh to the UFC and then was rumored for last year when Lawler was the champion. But now that he doesn’t have the belt, Lawler thinks St-Pierre wouldn’t have any interest in it.

“I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I think Georges is gonna pick the opponent that’s gonna be the best for him to get a victory and sell a lot of pay-per-views. I don’t think he wants to fight me. I have to win a couple fights and beat a couple people up first.”

Lawler also spoke about his split from the American Top Team gym in Coconut Creek, Fla. Lawler began training at ATT in 2012 and became the high-profile gym’s first UFC champion. ATT is given a lot of credit for the resurgence Lawler had once re-signing with the UFC, but in January Lawler left the gym and has since been training at Combat Club with Henri Hooft. Though there was rampant speculation on the subject, former champion didn’t have much to say, maintaining only that the gym was no longer a good fit for him.

“It was time for me to go. It wasn’t the place for me. I have a lot of friends and buddies still training there but the place wasn’t for me any more and that’s what I have to say about that.”

While American Top Team may no longer be the place for him, the octagon certainly still is. Lawler’s upcoming bout against Cerrone is one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year despite not being a main event attraction. Cerrone is certainly excited, saying that he expects to stand in the middle and “throw down with one of the greatest.” And if Cerrone does, Lawler thinks he’s in for a rough night.

“I’m not really too worried about that right now. That’s a little ways out. I’m just getting my body in shape and making sure I work on all my skills. Wherever the fight goes, I want to be prepared. But if someone’s standing right in the middle with me, they’re getting beat up.”


MUST-READ STORIES

Not good. Gegard Mousasi labels his contract offer from the UFC “not good.”

Get out. Tony Ferguson responds to “little b**ch” Nate Diaz telling him to get out.

“Retired.” Vitor Belfort’s manager says Belfort wants fights with Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen.

Average. Bellator does 607,000 viewers for their most recent tape-delayed event.


VIDEO STEW

Gegard Mousasi telling Michael Bisping that his win over Rockhold was a fluke is among the best things to happen in MMA this year.

Holloway-Pettis free fight from UFC Espanol.

Joanna on SI.

Dennis Bermudez going BTS at the fighter retreat.

Joanna getting that Barstool love.

Tommy on the interim title.


LISTEN UP

Heavy Hands. Previewing how Gaethje and Moraes will do in the UFC.

The MMA Circus. Headlined by a Kajan Johnson interview talking fighter retreat.

Press Row. Breen and Damon Martin talk about TJ-DJ and UFC 213.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Magana is not staying quiet on Twitter that’s for sure.

And this happened.

Cody still getting put in a box in the arguing game.

Cain says he’s coming back soon.

Hope this gets made.

Matt Serra and NDT.

USADA.

If Poirier changed his fight nickname to “The Underground King” I would love everything about that.

Cro Cop sure don’t look like he’s retired. Hoo boy.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Renan Barao (34-4) vs. Aljamain Sterling (13-2); UFC 214, July 29.

Ricardo Lamas (17-5) vs. Chan Sung Jung (14-4); UFC 214, July 29.

Josh Burkman (28-15) vs. Drew Dober (17-8); UFC 214, July 29.

Eric Shelton (10-3) vs. Jarred Brooks (12-0); UFC 214, July 29.

Dmitry Smoliakov (8-2) vs. Adam Wieczorek (8-1); UFC 214, July 29.

Kailin Curran (4-4) vs. Aleksandra Albu (2-0); UFC 214, July 29.

Sage Northcutt (8-2) vs. Claudio Puelles (7-1); UFC 214, July 29.

Kyoji Horiguchi (19-2) vs. Hideo Tokoro (34-29-2); Rizin FF, July 30.

Takafumi Otsuka (22-13-2) vs. Anthony Birchak (13-4); Rizin FF, July 30.

Keita Ishibashi (8-5-2) vs. Khalid Taha (10-0); Rizin FF, July 30.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2012: Cole Konrad competed in his final MMA fight, submitting Eric Prindle to retain his Bellator heavyweight championship at Bellator 70.

2013: Cain Velasquez beat down Antonio Silva to retain his UFC heavyweight title at UFC 160. This event also saw the final fight of T.J. Grant’s career, a first round knockout of Gray Maynard which secured him a title shot he would never cash in on due to injury.


FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s hard to envision someone being less sympathetic than Angela Magana. We still live in a society and you can’t go off punching people because they say mean things but holy hell. Like, what is the purpose of being so misanthropic? Just astonishing.

Also, Lawler-Cerrone is incredible violence and none of us should speak about it again for fear of jinxing it.

Oh, and Robbie Lawler busts up Michael Bisping if that fight somehow got made.

Take it easy everyone and see y’all tomorrow.


If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy it.