Robbie Lawler: 'I'm not worried about the belt right now'
At first glance it would appear Robbie Lawler's motivation for fighting a fourth time in less than eight months would be the title shot dangling overhead for the winner of his fight against Matt Brown but that assumption would be wrong.
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Over the last eight months, Robbie Lawler has been one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster. He battled to a three-round decision against Rory MacDonald last November to secure his shot at the UFC welterweight title. Lawler was then booked for a five-round fight against Johny Hendricks in March to determine the new king at 170-pounds in the wake of Georges St-Pierre's sabbatical from competition.
Lawler came up just short in his bid to take the title home, but wasted no time when the UFC called him to step in and help boost the UFC 173 card in May -- a mere two months after his 25-minute war with Hendricks. Once again, Lawler looked rejuvenated and didn't miss a step inside the cage and proceeded to finish Ellenberger by strikes in the third round.
All told, Lawler has spent 58:06 seconds in the Octagon over three fights in just about eight months time. So when the UFC once again asked him to step up and help boost and upcoming fight card, some were surprised that Lawler was so willing to say yes. It appeared to be the perfect time for him to take at least a small break while Hendricks remained on the sidelines rehabbing an injured arm and leg from their fight in March.
Instead, Lawler gladly accepted the upcoming bout against Matt Brown that will headline UFC Fight Night from San Jose this weekend, with the winner earning a crack at the UFC welterweight title. While some fighters look at constant activity as a positive, others will point to the fact that it can lead to burnout both of the body and of the mind.
Lawler knew exactly what he was getting into by accepting a fourth bout in less than a year's time, although there was one other very important person in his life that had to say okay first.
"It's good. Train smart, train hard and I took care of my body and I was already in shape so I didn't have to push to get in shape so I didn't have to work to get in shape. When I trained, I trained smart so when it was time to go hard I went hard and when it was time to rest, I rested," Lawler told FOX Sports.
"My body was ready to go, I just needed to make sure everything else in my life was okay with it. Make sure my wife was okay with me going right back into training camp because I have been pretty much in a seven-month training camp. So I needed to make sure my life was in order so I wasn't just physically ready but mentally ready and a happy wife means a happy home."
Lawler has been fighting professional since he was a teenager and now as he closes in on his 33rd birthday next year, he understands better than anybody just how his body works. This fight camp to prepare for Brown was shortened just because he fought Ellenberger at the end of May and then booked this bout days later. There was very little time to relax before it was time to start training again so Lawler made sure his body healed over the last seven weeks while adjusting his schedule accordingly.
The end result inside the cage doesn't change, it just ensures Lawler is healthy and ready to go another five hard rounds if that's what it takes to dispose of Brown on Saturday night.
"It's definitely keep your body safe, keep your mind safe and train smart," Lawler said. "That's what I've been doing. After fights normally I don't get back into sparring. I hit pads and get my body in shape. My body is in shape so I want to make sure I'm ready so I focus on my muscles and my endurance and just making sure I'm in fight shape. Maybe a month later I'll pick up my sparring and go from there."
For this fight against Brown, it's doesn't appear to be as much of a chess match as he's had in some other matchups like his bout against Hendricks where he had to add an extra layer of training to prepare for the former NCAA champion's wrestling. While Brown is well versed in wrestling and submissions, it's easy to see judging by his six knockouts or TKO's in a row that he's looking for a finish on the feet.
Lawler is ready for whatever Brown throws at him, but the fifth-ranked welterweight might want to be more worried about what's coming back at him in return.
"I'm not too worried about what that guy's going to do. I'm worried about what I'm going to do to him," Lawler said. "That's something he should worry about."
It would seem the ultimate motivation for this fight would come from the prize at the end of the rainbow -- in this case a shot at the welterweight title and for Lawler a shot at redemption against Hendricks. While that may serve as a reason to get up a little earlier in the morning or stay in the gym for an extra hour in the afternoon, Lawler puts his best poker face forward and stonewalls the idea that he needs a title dangling overhead so he'll want to fight.
If there's one thing you should know about Robbie Lawler it's that he loves to fight because fighting is what he was made to do.
"I'm not worried about the belt right now," Lawler said. "I'm worried about being the best I can be and put on a show for all the fans. It's going to be exciting."