The Ultimate Fighter
"I’m getting stronger, getting faster, and there’s not much time to rest and get lazy, that’s for sure." - Robbie Lawler
As the great resurgence of Robbie Lawler continues, the fistic artist known as “Ruthless” doesn’t blink when it comes to a schedule that would make most fighters cower, or at least hit the ‘ignore’ button when they see UFC matchmaker Joe Silva’s name on the caller ID.
With three fights and nearly 11 rounds in since last November, and potentially five more on the docket in this Saturday’s FOX main event against Matt Brown, Lawler is just happy to be working.
“It’s a good thing because it keeps me in the gym, keeps me training, and keeps me getting better,” he said. “I’m getting stronger, getting faster, and there’s not much time to rest and get lazy, that’s for sure.”
Ten years ago, the answer from Lawler may have been that a busy schedule was good because it would keep him out of the trouble 22 year olds tend to get into. But as a 32-year-old married father, Lawler is still Lawler, just a refined version of the wild child knockout artist, one whose time with family and friends, as well as his work in the gym, takes precedence over everything else.
That doesn’t mean he won’t look back fondly at the good ol’ days.
“When I was out of the UFC after my first stint, I moved up to 185 and actually fought in Hawaii all the time and enjoyed myself and went on vacation every time I fought,” he laughed. “That’s what this sport’s about and that’s what life’s about, just having fun, competing, and being with your buddies.”
Of course when you’re Robbie Lawler, UFC fighter, some of those buddies are pretty famous, and with the recent induction of his former coach Pat Miletich into the UFC Hall of Fame, he now has two pals enshrined among the Octagon’s greatest, Matt Hughes being the other.
“It’s huge,” said Lawler, who made his bones with the Miletich Fighting Systems camp. “It shows where I came from, the guys I’ve been around, and I’m happy for Pat to finally get inducted to the Hall of Fame. Matt’s in there, and it’s just exciting to see my buddies and my brothers still doing well and getting credit for what they accomplished in the past.”
The MFS team will go down as one of the best collectives to ever grace the sport. And who knows, if Lawler can beat Brown, beat Johny Hendricks in a rematch for the welterweight crown and put together a solid reign at the top, he may one day join Miletich and Hughes. It was a topic discussed back in the days in the Iowa gym, but not necessarily one Lawler was listening to.
“I think we talked about it a little bit, but I wasn’t too involved,” he said. “I was young. I was there for the moment and I wanted to just train hard and beat people up and have fun. I didn’t worry too much about those things. But it’s definitely something you think of as you get older.”
Hall of Fame, legacy, how he’s remembered – all topics you would never have thought Lawler would broach in an interview, but in his second time around in the UFC, he’s embracing a lot of things that he wouldn’t have when he was in his early-20s. Even if he might not admit it.
“I just take it one fight at a time and keep grinding away, staying healthy, and keeping my eye on the prize and making sure I’m getting better every day, a day at a time.”
It’s not the most headline-worthy sentiment, but Lawler’s always let us write our best copy about his fights, slugfests that usually write themselves. This weekend’s showdown with Brown may end up being the best of the bunch, but if you ask Lawler if he gets more excited for fights like this than for other ones, you can guess his response.
“I don’t look at it like that,” he laughs, knowing that he is giving his inquisitor precisely what he doesn’t want. “I look at it as how can I get better, what can I work on, and my coaches watch tape on my opponent and put me in situations in practice that I’ll be in in the fight so that I’ll be ready for everything that Matt brings to the table. I don’t concentrate too much on him; my coaches do, and I just work hard.”
So does he ever look at the old wars and smile a bit?
“Sometimes I watch them, but most of the time I don’t,” he said. “Maybe right after the fight I watch them and then just move on.”
That’s the secret right there. Talking about legacy is nice, but living in the past isn’t. For Robbie Lawler, there’s only one direction in the Octagon and in life: forward
“I keep things simple,” he said. “I keep moving ahead, keep moving forward, and I don’t dwell on anything in the past.”