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Reasons to watch UFC 201


LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 11: Robbie Lawler reacts to his victory over Rory MacDonald in their UFC welterweight title fight during the UFC 189 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Tyron Woodley joked on Episode 2 of UFC 201 Embedded that the majority of the welterweight division thinks Robbie Lawler is the Boogeyman.

It’s hard to blame anyone who thinks Lawler is a monster. He’s a vicious champion who has made himself right at home in some of the most violent, career-shortening fights in UFC history.

During a media appearance before his UFC 201 matchup with Woodley, Lawler appeared on a local Atlanta TV show to preview the fight. The conversation shifted when the interviewer brought up Conor McGregor and how Lawler felt about a potential fight with the Irishman.

“He’s a big draw but it wouldn’t have been good for him,” Lawler said.

The interviewer, now intrigued by Lawler’s calm and eerie rebuke, asked how it wouldn’t be good for McGregor if they fought.

“If I hurt him I wasn’t taking his neck [like Nate Diaz did when he submitted McGregor at UFC 196],” Lawler said.

So what would Lawler have taken from McGregor?

“His soul,” Lawler said.

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“Ruthless” is the No. 4-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC; he’s only lost once (a close decision loss to Johny Hendricks at UFC 171, which he avenged at UFC 181 to win the title) in over four years. Lawler holds a 16-1 career knockdown ratio, and his lust for violence has helped him become one of the most must-see fighters on the planet.

Woodley isn’t scared, though, and that makes this title showdown all the more compelling.

After a year and a half out of action, patiently waiting for a title shot, Woodley brings a serious threat to the championship reign of Lawler in Atlanta. He is one of the best wrestlers in the division and lands punches more accurately and defends better than Lawler on the feet.

The champion brings an average fight length of 13 minutes, 14 seconds with him into the Octagon compared to just 8:19 for the challenger. Lawler has accumulated some mileage, and observers wonder when the effects of the wars he’s been in will catch up with him.

Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley is the No. 1 reason to watch UFC 201 on Pay-Per-View

2. A new challenger will be born

On the heels of perhaps the greatest strawweight fight in UFC history against rival Claudia Gadelha, Joanna Jedrzejczyk remains the unbeaten champion and is looking for her next opponent.

Rose Namajunas vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the co-main event of UFC 201 could produce the division’s No. 1 contender.

Stylistically, the Namajunas-Kowalkiewicz fight has the potential to be a real treat. Namajunas is evolving as a striker and possesses some of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the division. The Polish Kowalkiewicz is a perfect 9-0 and is well-rounded with a background in Krav Maga and Muay Thai.

3. Old guard meets up-and-coming prospect

Ian McCall has lost three of his last five fights but his claim to fame is that he fought current pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson to a draw back in 2012. In his prime, McCall was a major factor in the flyweight division, but injuries have slowed him down in recent years.

Opening the main card, McCall takes on the entertaining rising star Justin Scoggins. “Tank” has won two in a row and in coming off an impressive win against Ray Borg, who was on his own impressive rise before falling to Scoggins.

4. Submission specialist looks for four in a row

Nikita Krylov has finished his last three wins of a four-fight win streak by submission and -- just for kicks -- before that, he knocked out Cody Donovan. All five of Krylov’s UFC wins have come by finish and he hasn’t lost in over two years.

UFC veteran Ed Herman makes his 20th Octagon appearance and his second at light heavyweight since the move up from 185 pounds. Herman has been in almost every situation imaginable in a fight and a win over “Short Fuse” would be a big one for Krylov.

5. American Top Team standout gets UFC FIGHT PASS featured bout

Michael Graves is fresh off a submission win against “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight” star Randy Brown in his last bout. With a two-fight win streak to start his UFC career, Graves looks to take another giant step forward in another FIGHT PASS main event against Bojan Velickovic.

Six of Velickovic’s 14 career wins have come by first round finish, and the striking/ground and pound ace will be a significant test for Graves.

Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC