Declaring that Saturday would serve as his retirement, the former welterweight champion needed just 38 seconds to finish Niko Price with a vicious series of punches that felt reminiscent from so many of his iconic performances. It was ultimately a series of left hooks followed by a left uppercut that crumbled Price down to the mat and Lawler knew the fight was over.
As Lawler walked away, the referee waived off the fight as the crowd at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas erupted in cheers.
“It was a hard training camp, nothing was going right,” Lawler said afterwards. “Today was the first day I felt good, my feet were moving really good. I’m like I’m going to do something pretty good today and just happened to land some big bombs.”
Because Price is known for fast starts of his own, he came forward on Lawler as soon as the referee released the fighters from the corner but that was a monumental mistake.
Lawler immediately engaged with Price while closing the distance to unleashed some of his powerful punches. Eventually, Lawler grabbed the back of Price’s head and that’s when he began unloading the series of left hands in succession.
One shot after another connected and Price just crashed to the canvas as Lawler celebrated his final fight with a stunning first-round knockout.
“It was good,” Lawler said about the finish. “It was just the ending of the career. I was landing some big shots in good places, temples, chin. It was too much. I was moving well. It’s nice to end my career like this. Thank you for the years of support.”
Following the win, the UFC queued up a highlight reel video paying tribute to Lawler, who was fighting back the tears as he watched many of the biggest moments from his career. Best known for his stoic demeanor, Lawler let the emotions overwhelm him as he called it a career and enjoyed the moment with the fans in attendance and the millions watching around the world.
“It’s amazing,” Lawler said. “I’ve had a long career. I’ve had a lot of people help me get to where I am today and without them, none of them was possible. Blessed. I’m grateful.”
Lawler’s career ends with a 30-16 record with one no contest including 22 knockouts and a title reigns in the UFC, Elite XC, ICON Sport and SuperBrawl promotions.