The Severe Spotlight: Robbie Lawler

Fairy tales in MMA don’t exist for the layman. Robbie Lawler, however, is a special fighter. His 39 second decimation of Niko Price equally sums up the man and the career of Lawler, whilst also not even beginning to scratch the surface.

International Fight Week provided the appropriate platform for the gravity of a Robbie Lawler retirement. The UFC never pulls any punches when it comes to IFW, the spectacle of the week with its fan-friendly experiences, the Hall of Fame inductions and of course, the weekend fight card.

The card on paper, and in practice was magical. We can argue and debate the placement of Lawler’s fight, but for the UFC the top of the prelims is a coveted spot, and always has been. Littered across the card were budding prospects across the organisation, we saw Cameron Saimann, Vitor Petrino, Denise Gomes, Tatsuro Taira and of course Bo Nickal. The two title fights were fights and performances for the ages, a brand-new title challenger was cemented in Dricus Du Plessis and of course: Robbie Lawler.

An emotional Lawler strolled out into a sea of adoration washing over him in the T-Mobile Arena, drinking in the energy. Big breathes engulfed his final announcement from Bruce Buffer before the eyes glazed over and he bounced out to meet Niko Price in the centre of the Octagon.

The fight began with Lawler in his regular southpaw stance, calm and relaxed, as you would expect for a mans 46th professional MMA fight. A glove touch and the usual bouncing cadence that we see from this era of Lawler.

Price initiates the first exchange with a back leg teep that’s brushed aside like a fly distracting from the consumption of a plate of food. The movement of Robbie’s feet are on a pattern of baiting and feinting a distance advantage for Price, begging him to swallow up the space Lawler is making to be there, as he bounds out slightly to his right.

Price bites with a roundhouse kick that Lawler bounds out of range of, before hopping right back in, chasing down the turning Price. At 4:44 Lawler wins the footwork battle in a big way, flanking his right foot far outside the line of Price’s left. Launching a left hand down the pipe, Price does a good job of parrying, however the left hand was never the goal, the right hook over the top was. Price’s counter movements deflect much of the impact from the check right, but Lawler already sensed the right hand from Price and ducked underneath it. Launching a left hand up from the hip as he builds his height and another right hook.

The veteran savvy is on full show after that flurry ends, Price has taken a big right hand and Lawler pauses to check whether Price still wants to be in here. The hurried cadence paused a moment, Lawler’s facial expression reflects a thoughtful, scanning vision before the cold demeanour continues as he feels Price is still there.

4:32. Lawler pulls Price into the pocket, moving from the outside footwork battle and pulling back to an inside position with his feet, planting them into the ground and launching another left hand. Price has thrown a left kick which takes his head off the centre line and avoids the left-hand piston, but the right hook coming back connects cleanly.

4:28. Price begins to lower his level, and Lawler has seen it from 15 miles away, a shovel uppercut erupts from the back pocket of Lawler’s jeans and connects clean with Price. Wobbled Price looks to get hold of Lawler, but that right uppercut turned to a collar tie and that is a position of death with Robbie Lawler. The right-hand collar tie lead to two left hooks, a crushing left uppercut that firmly put the destination in the Price GPS to “the canvas” but a final left hook added some accelerant to the journey. Opponent crumpled to the mat, Lawler lofts his jubilant hands high and wheels away.

A walk off KO, as a final walk off to a storied, legendary, pioneering career.

Thank you Robbie Lawler for your service, we appreciate you.

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