Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz are all the talk in the UFC’s welterweight division these days, but in case you forgot, Robbie Lawler holds the belt and has had it for a long time.
Lawler aims to defend his title for the third time Saturday night when he faces Tyron Woodley in the UFC 201 main event in Atlanta.
Woodley hasn’t fought since defeating Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 183 via split decision nearly 18 months ago. Woodley was lined up to fight at UFC 192 against Johny Hendricks, but when Hendricks pulled out because of a kidney stone, Woodley decided to adopt a “no strap, no scrap” policy and not accept any non-title bouts.
Woodley’s patience paid off, as he now receives a shot at the title against a formidable opponent in Lawler, who earned the belt way back in 2014 at UFC 181 when he beat Hendricks via split decision. Lawler then defended his belt at UFC 189 against Rory McDonald and once more at UFC 195 against Carlos Condit.
Both title defenses were all-out brawls to remember for the ages. Lawler’s victory against McDonald, in which he avoided a loss by decision with a fifth-round knockout, was voted Fight of the Year for 2015 at the World MMA Awards.
Despite his dominance, Lawler hasn’t received nearly as much buzz as the boisterous McGregor and Diaz, who will fight in an anticipated rematch at UFC 202. That said, the 34-year-old has the experience and guile to withstand the speedy attack expected from Woodley.
Also on the main card is a key women’s strawweight bout between Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Rose Namajunas. The winner will have a good shot at challenging champion Joanna J?drzejczyk for the belt in the near future.
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