In the Mount Rushmore of greatest battles in UFC history, it would be rare to find somebody that didn’t put the final two successful welterweight title defenses from Robbie Lawler on the list.
Approaching the seven-year anniversary of two of the most memorable championship fights in the hallowed octagon’s history, Lawler successfully defended his welterweight title against Rory MacDonald in the co-main event of UFC 189 in July 2015 in an incredible war of attrition won by “Ruthless” in the fifth and final round.
Six months later, Lawler defended his title against Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 194 in January 2016. Not only did the fight stand out from the opening bell, but the fifth and final round went down as one of the best rounds in the history of the sport. In the end, Lawler again emerged as the victor, this time via split decision.
Years later, Lawler is preparing to face Bryan Barberena on Saturday at UFC 276 in Las Vegas. Asked to reflect on those two iconic battles, he was asked if he could only watch one of those fights for the rest of his life, which one would he choose?
“Probably the Rory fight,” Lawler told MMA Fighting. “The Condit fight was a really good fight, but I feel like the atmosphere of [UFC 189] was awesome. The Irish fans were there in full force and the electricity in the arena was awesome. We just came to fight.”
The 40-year-old is certainly honored to be mentioned in the best fights of all-time conversations. But at the same time, he is the type of guy who is able to quickly turn the page. He doesn’t sit back and re-watch his work, nor does he think about those battles very often.
Lawler lived them for 50 grueling minutes, and that’s enough for him.
“I mean, obviously it’s a big thing to be even mentioned [in those types of discussions], but on to the next,” he said. “It’s like, OK, but now, it’s on to helping out other guys.
“I have a lot of training partners who need help, so those are the kind of things that I focus on. How can I be better today than I was yesterday? [I focus on] those types of things.”
Lawler most recently competed this past September when he stopped Nick Diaz in the third round at UFC 266. Heading into his 46th professional fight, he still has the same mentality about the fight game — what’s done is done — but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a whole lot of fun in those classic battles with MacDonald and Condit.
“Those things are done,” Lawler continued. “They’re exciting fights. I’m glad I had the opportunity to go out there and showcase who I am inside, because a lot of times, what you see out there is a lot of fighting spirit. I’m glad I was able to get put in a situation where those things came out, and had those types of performances, and it had to do with who I was fighting. It has to do with who I am inside of me.
“But it also has to do with my training partners getting me ready for those fights, my coaches getting me ready for those fights. A lot went into those and I’m just glad I was able to get those victories.”