“Wild Card”. That’s what I am calling “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler in the welterweight division. There was an inordinate amount of split decisions on the UFC on FOX 8 card last night. Even the unanimous decisions were not without controversy. Lawler, however, did not need three judges to confirm that he was the better fighter that night. Lawler out-struck a tough customer in Bobby Voelker, and scored a TKO victory just twenty-four seconds into the second round. From the start of the fight he was moving forward and putting together crisp hand combinations. When they clinched, he would control positioning with ease and land knees to the body against the cage. One well-timed knee from Lawler even managed to connect with Voelker’s face, breaking his nose. Lawler had Voelker’s number, and never gave him a chance to get into the fight. He landed a head kick from outside in the first round, but Voelker was able to block it slightly. Once Voelker started moving forward and throwing punches, Lawler would stay on the outside, looking to counter by winging hooks at the right time. Unexpectedly, Lawler threw a vicious flying knee from way outside, which landed flush however did not appear to hurt Voelker. It was an action packed round that demanded many “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd in attendance. In the second round, it was clear that Lawler smelled blood. He came straight at Voelker and fanned on a huge punch. After resetting, Voelker stepped in on Robbie to throw a punch, and Robbie threw a forceful left high kick that landed flush on Voelker’s temple. Voelker tipped over onto his back, still conscious but badly hurt. Robbie advanced on his opponent and landed two huge punches that snapped his head back sent his arms flailing, and it was clear that Voelker was done.
Where does this victory put Lawler? Well, let us weigh it accordingly. First we must remember that Lawler did indeed go 3-5 in his Strikeforce career. Not exactly exemplary. However, his first UFC fight was a tall order against perennial top five welterweight Josh Koscheck. Lawler was able to reverse a takedown and smash Koscheck with punches against the fence until the ref was forced to step in. In Lawler’s second UFC fight he was slated to face Tarec Saffedeine, the last welterweight champion that Strikeforce crowned before closing their doors for good. Soon after it was revealed that Tarec was injured and out of the fight, so they quickly booked Lawler against the heavy handed man from Afghanistan, Siyar Bahadurzada. Then when Siyar pulled out as well, Voelker was thrown in as a replacement with less than two weeks notice for Lawler. None of this mattered to Lawler however. The notoriously dead-panned fighter went out last night and did his job, winning over fans as well as earning praise from the man himself, Dana White.
This win puts him at 2-0 in his second stint in the UFC, and he now has achieved eighteen of his twenty-one victories via KO or TKO. With last night’s “title eliminator” matchup between Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger winding up falling flat on its face, why do I find myself wondering how Lawler would look with the belt on instead of MacDonald?