The UFC’s welterweight division just got a bit more ruthless. Robbie Lawler will make his return to the Octagon, his first appearance since 2004 when the former Team Militech fighter lost to Evan Tanner. Since then, Lawler has become a journeyman of sorts, fighting across multiple promotions including Pride and EliteXC prior to joining Strikeforce’s ranks.

Since the jump up in competition, Lawler has looked anything but the blue-chip prospect everyone predicted him to be when he broke onto the MMA scene. While in Strikeforce, Lawler went just 3-5 with none of the wins coming against anyone of relevance in the MMA world. Mixed throughout his losses were a number of grapplers like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Jake Shields.

The grappling game has always been the Achilles’ heel (well one of them) of Lawler, and it’s a position he’ll likely find himself in against Josh Koscheck at UFC 157. The two men fight each other on the main card based on their name power alone, as it’s clear neither man is relevant in the title picture at the moment. Yet, there are still reasons for fans to be intrigued about Lawler’s return to the UFC.

For one, it will be Lawler’s first time back at 170 pounds since his infamous faceplant at the hands of Nick Diaz at UFC 47. Lawler has competed mainly at middleweight, but has bounced around at different catchweights as well. If Lawler can make the cut to 170 without suffering any setbacks, the division just added an explosive striker to the mix.

Also, let’s add in the fact that a number of fans (and fighters) are hoping for a Lawler victory, as Koscheck isn’t exactly the most popular figure in MMA. Unfortunately for those fans, however, it’s difficult to foresee Koscheck finding himself in much trouble against Lawler. While, at 35 years of age, Koscheck is clearly on the downslope of his career, he’s still one of the best wrestlers in the division and shouldn’t have an issue taking Lawler to the mat. Given Lawler’s tendency to swing wide, looping punches, the opportunity for a takedown should be ripe for the taking if Koscheck chooses to look for it. Of course, we’ve seen Koscheck fall in love with his striking game before, and his confidence level in his hands may override any sense of fight IQ. If that’s the case, Koscheck could find himself in a world of hurt against Lawler.

Looking at Lawler’s prospects beyond what is a terrible match-up for him against Koscheck, don’t expect to see Lawler in any meaningful fights. It’s clear that he’s one of the most devastating strikers in the game, but he hasn’t developed enough of a defensive ground game to compliment his stand-up skills. That will likely lead to the UFC placing him on events broadcast over free television and against fellow strikers to help boost viewer ratings. That also likely means an end to any relevancy in either the welterweight or middleweight division.

Lawler once had a very promising career, but it has fizzled out mightily after his UFC days. Defeating Koscheck won’t earn him any considerations for future title shots, but it will be at least some form of vindication for the once decorated fighter. Still, with the number of talented grapplers in the welterweight division, fans shouldn’t have any delusions of grandeur about where Lawler ranks in the UFC.

 

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.