One of the big questions going into the Robbie Lawler vs. Melvin Manhoef fight was whether Lawler would attempt to take Manhoef down. It was certainly the safest and easiest path to victory for Lawler, but fighters can be stubborn and like to prove they can beat one another at their own game. Lawler never did shoot it in on Manhoef, but as Matt Hughes tells Cagewriter’s Steve Cofield that doesn’t mean it wasn’t part of the plan. Manhoef just never gave him any good openings. Hughes explains on his blog.
A lot of people are asking questions on what Robbie’s game plan was and I will say that the game plan wasn’t to get kicked in the leg about 15 times and then knock him out. We wanted to take the fight to the ground, wear him out a little bit and then maybe the second or third round Robbie could stand with him if he wanted, but Melvin did a good job of keeping distance. When Melvin was within takedown range he was always throwing or kicking, the only time he wasn’t throwing or kicking he was just too far away to get ahold of. Every time Robbie flinched like he was going to come towards him, Melvin just backed off. So Robbie never felt comfortable putting a good attempt in to take Melvin down. With all that was going on I’m glad Robbie was able to keep his head and sit back and think about what he’d seen while watching Melvin’s fights on YouTube. Robbie was able to remember something that was a key to the victory: #1 Robbie needed to get Melvin in close so he could put his hands on him. He tried playing possum twice before to see if Melvin would come in for the finish. #2 after watching Melvin fight on YouTube, he realized that Melvin liked to drop his hands when he was going to finish somebody. So it was a good fight and a good victory for Robbie. Melvin also had a good game plan, throwing a lot of those fast powerful kicks, it’s just that Melvin got caught making the same mistake that he has in the past and Robbie was able to capitalize on it.
Whether it was just a good plan B or a lucky punch, Lawler managed to pull off one of the most thrilling come-from-behind victories we’ll see all year. He only threw seven strikes in the entire fight, but he sure made the best out of the three he landed.
Hughes also backed off comments he made last year about Strikeforce going under, but he wasn’t shy in pointing out why he thinks the UFC is a superior organization.
“There’s just a difference on how the fighters are treated,” said Hughes, who has been fighting consistently in the UFC since 2001. “When we walked in the hotel there were a couple of people from Strikeforce in the lobby. By gosh, I don’t fight for Strikeforce so don’t worry about me [but] you would’ve thought they would’ve stood up and shook Robbie’s hand but nobody did. It’s little things like that. You just don’t feel at home. The UFC wouldn’t do that.”
“There’s two guys back in the lockerroom and it’s been three hours since they fought. And they’re still waiting for someone to come and stitch them up,” Hughes said around 1 a.m. ET. He was referencing Joe Riggs and Jay Hieron, who were finished with their fight at roughly 9:35 p.m. ET. “It’s the little things that are going to drive fighters away.”
Maybe Hughes is right about the “little things,” but to be fair, there’s been plenty of fighters over the years who have serious problems with the way the UFC have treated them. Unfortunately, no promoter/organization is perfect and never will be. Still, for the most part I’d say both organizations treat their fighters pretty darn good all things considered.