Lawler ‘looking to dominate’, ensure Hendricks never wants a rematch
It was just nine months ago when Robbie Lawler was five minutes away from capturing a UFC title for the first time in his storied career.
Lawler faced a lot of trials and tribulations since his first UFC fight back in 2002 and after a long absence from the Octagon he found his way back to the top of the rankings. Lawler beat Johny Hendricks to the punch for two rounds and all he needed was one more to notch on the scorecards and he’d walk home the new UFC welterweight champion.
Hendricks countered Lawler’s heavy hands with a wrestling attack in that final round. Lawler struggled to stop the former NCAA champion from putting him on the mat and keeping him there until the final horn sounded. When Hendricks was announced the winner, Lawler wasn’t too surprised.
Looking back on the fight, Lawler can now assess exactly what went wrong. He was trying to finish Hendricks and put a stop to the fight during every minute of every round. Meanwhile he believes Hendricks was doing the right amount of work to make sure the judges notched a 10 in his column when the round came to an end.
"When I went into that fight I was looking for a couple of things that never came. This time I want to win every round. Johny’s a really good competitor and he fought Georges St-Pierre, who is another really good competitor. He was in there in a battle with a guy who’s looking to win every round. Maybe not looking to finish, but who is looking to win. I think that’s something I need to take that from the last fight," Lawler said when speaking with FOX Sports.
I’m not looking for a rivalry. I’m looking for a one-sided fight. I’m looking to dominate and he never wants to fight me again. He’s a hell of a competitor, but I’m a hell of a fighter.
— Robbie Lawler
"Johny’s a fighter, Johny’s a winner and he understands the scoring system and he did a great job of that."
It’s a subtle jab that Lawler takes at Hendricks without actually saying that the current welterweight champion was looking to outpoint him instead of going for the finish.
In preparation for the rematch, Lawler made sure he put himself in all the worst positions that Hendricks could put him in during this fight and then he figured a way out. He worked with wrestlers hell-bent on putting him on the mat and keeping him there. He sparred with strikers who were trying to land a frustrating volume of punches and kicks. He trained through five arduous rounds day in and day out to make sure that his gas tank was full for Saturday night in Las Vegas.
With just hours remaining until he steps into the cage against Hendricks again, Lawler knows he’s ready for anything and everything.
"I have confidence because of my training partners. The guys putting me in these situations so when I’m in the fight and I’m fighting Johny, I’m going to be ready for everything he’s bringing," Lawler said. "I’m going to be offensive in all those positions. I’m going to be ready to go."
Lawler looked better than ever in his two fights since facing Hendricks in March. He finished Jake Ellenberger by TKO in May and then returned for a five-round unanimous decision over Matt Brown in July. He even used some wrestling to put Brown on his back a few times during the fight to exude the full range of his new and improved skill set.
The truth is Lawler doesn’t really care what people think or say about those two performances, however, because what you’ve seen him do lately doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome of his rematch with Hendricks. It’s what you don’t see during all the grueling hours he spends in the gym, honing his craft and looking at Hendricks as the last obstacle standing in his way of UFC title.
"It doesn’t matter that I was fighting or not fighting. It matters that I was in the gym, pushing myself to get better, fine-tuning things and adding things to my game so I can be the best in the world," Lawler said. "It doesn’t matter what I was doing out there for the world to see. It matters what I was doing in the gym."
Lawler is confident that when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday night, Hendricks won’t be able to handle the kind of pressure he’s going to apply. Despite their last fight going for all five rounds and being declared one of the best fights of the year, Lawler isn’t looking for a repeat and he’s definitely not looking for the judges to get involved again.
"I’m not looking for a rivalry. I’m looking for a one-sided fight. I’m looking to dominate and he never wants to fight me again," Lawler said. "He’s a hell of a competitor, but I’m a hell of a fighter. I’m ready for December 6."