UFC

Lawler knocks off MacDonald

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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.

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LAS VEGAS

The buzz throughout the arena on Saturday night in Las Vegas was that Canadian prospect Rory MacDonald was the next big thing, cruising towards a title shot after a win at UFC 167.

Robbie Lawler had a different plan.

The 12-year veteran came into the bout on a two-fight win streak since returning to the UFC as a welterweight and he wasn't about to let the odds keep him from picking up one of the biggest wins of his career. Those odds, by the way, were all the up to four to one by the time the fighters stepped into the cage.

MacDonald came out fighting a tactical and technical battle early, looking to use his right kick to back Lawler off from using his power punches. The Tristar product mixed up his attacks throughout the fight, tossing out a straight jab and then throwing his kick while also landing a few takedowns as well.

None of it rattled Lawler or deterred him from his ultimate plan of throwing the head shot that would take MacDonald out once and for all. After a hard fought, back and forth battle through a very close first two rounds, Lawler came out as the aggressor in round three absolutely looking to maul MacDonald and never giving him a second to breathe.

Lawler attacked relentlessly as MacDonald's face started to see the effects of his opponent's punches. The former Strikeforce fighter tagged MacDonald with a huge right that staggered his opponent, but it was one of his signature titanic left hands that sent the 24-year old fighter to the mat. With a huge flurry of punches, Lawler tried to put the fight away, but MacDonald was able to survive. As the seconds wound down, MacDonald was able to grab one last takedown and tried to land some elbows to even up the score, but the damage was already done.

When the judges returned their tallies the scores read 29-28 Lawler, 29-28, MacDonald and 29-28 Lawler — the split decision nod landing in the underdog's corner.

Lawler is now a flawless 3-0 in the welterweight division while arguably picking up the biggest win of his career by beating a top three fighter in MacDonald. The long time UFC fighter can now start looking at the upper echelon of the division with a title fight in sight after a victory over MacDonald at UFC 167.

MacDonald (15-2) suffers only the second loss of his career and at least for the time being no longer has to worry about possibly being forced to face his friend and teammate Georges St-Pierre with the welterweight title on the line.

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