Robbie LawlerUFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler defended his title for the first time in an epic five round war against Rory MacDonald in the co-main event of UFC 189 on Saturday night. He knocked MacDonald out in the fifth round in arguably one of the greatest fights in UFC history.

I wrote a similar piece in 2012 after witnessing a similar fight between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson at UFC 139, which ultimately proved that I was right in that Rua would not be the same after that fight.

In the last 16 months Lawler has fought five times, in which four of those fights have gone into the fifth round. He has won four of those fights and inflicted an incredible amount of damage on his opponents, but has also been on the receiving end of an incredible amount of punishment himself. Lawler, much like Rua, is a fighter’s fighter that lives for the battle to entertain the fans.

Let’s look at the amount of damage Lawler has received in these bouts(stats courtesy of Fightmetric):

  • UFC 189: Rory MacDonald landed 87 total strikes of which 86 were credited as “significant” and 70 of those strikes were to the head.
  • UFC 181: Johny Hendricks landed 145 total ¬†strikes of which 111 were credited as “significant” and 66 of those strikes were to the head.
  • UFC on FOX: Matt Brown landed 89 total strikes of which 82 were credited as “significant” and 45 of those strikes were to the head.
  • UFC 173: Jake Ellenberger landed 30 total strikes of which 29 were credited as “significant” and 22 of those strikes were to the head.
  • UFC 171: Johny Hendricks landed 186 total strikes of which 158 were credited as “significant” and 111 of those strikes were to the head.

Lawler has been hit a grand total of 537 times, with 466 of those strikes being credited as “significant” in the past 16 months. I should mention the damage he has absorbed in training camps while sparring for this number of fights in such a short period should be considered as significant as well. Lawler has only been knocked out once in his career, amazingly it against Nick Diaz who isn’t known for having a ton of power in his strikes. However, he has been stunned numerous times during this five fight span and usually that’s one of the telltale signs of the inevitable.

It’s amazing that he has been able to fight at such a high level for so long with such a fan friendly style.¬†How much does Lawler have left in the tank at 33 years old? Will the amount of damage absorbed finally take it’s toll in his next fight?

Time will tell.

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