July 27, 2017

UFC 214: Don't Forget About Robbie Lawler

By Adam Martin

Considering how stacked UFC 214 is, it’s no surprise there are a few quality fights flying under the radar. One of those fights is the return of former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler, who fights Donald Cerrone in a main card scrap that’s an early contender to win “Fight of the Night.”

This is a great matchup that the UFC has been trying to book for a while now. The first time this fight was scheduled was for UFC 205, but Lawler declined to take the fight, citing more time off to allow him to recover after his shocking KO loss to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201. The UFC then tried to re-book Lawler vs. Cerrone for UFC 213, but this time Cerrone pulled out with a staph infection, which pushed the fight back once again. Barring any funny business, this fight will finally go down at UFC 214, Saturday night at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

It will be great to see Lawler back in action after a year away from the cage. He returned to the UFC in 2012 after years away fighting in other organizations, and since returning to the UFC, Lawler has racked up an 8-2 record inside the Octagon, with quality wins over the likes of Rory MacDonald (twice), Johny Hendricks, Carlos Condit, Matt Brown, and Jake Ellenberger, with his only losses to Hendricks and Woodley.

Lawler’s first fight with Hendricks at UFC 171 was arguably the 2014 “Fight of the Year,” his second fight with MacDonald was undoubtedly 2015’s “Fight of the Year,” and his 2016 bout against Condit was again undoubtedly 2016’s “Fight of the Year.” His fight with Cerrone could very well end up being 2017’s “Fight of the Year” as well, making Lawler clearly one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, and someone the fans have clearly missed since he’s been on the sidelines recovering from the damage he’s taken the last few years.

At a time when the UFC is looking for stars to headline pay-per-views, Lawler is easily one of those guys. While his fights aren’t going to sell millions of PPVs like a Conor McGregor fight would, the cards Lawler headlined have mostly done in the range of 300,000 buys, which is certainly respectable in this day and age, where most PPVs not involving McGregor are bombing. Ultimately it comes down to the matchup, because an exciting fight like Condit vs. Lawler is going to do a lot better at the box office than Woodley vs. Lawler, but if Lawler can take out Cerrone this weekend -- especially if he does so in devastating fashion -- then it sets him up for another big fight, possibly even another headlining act, with a title possibly on the line, depending on how the rest of the division shakes out.

However, Lawler’s sole focus is on Cerrone this weekend. It’s a big fight for him, and one that, if he wins, puts him in a great position in his return to the UFC. As one of the most exciting fighters in the sport and a secondary draw, the UFC is surely hoping Lawler can return to form so it can start promoting him in big fights once again. He may not ever hold the belt again, but he’s still one of the most action-packed fighters in the sport, and fans are surely excited for his return this weekend at UFC 214. It’s nice to see “Ruthless” back in the cage, and now he has the chance to continue his “Fight of the Year” streak against another bonus hunter in Cerrone.

UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 takes place July 29, 2017 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

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