Robbie Lawler

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Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler.png
Lawler in June 2016 with the UFC Welterweight Championship belt
BornRobert Glenn Lawler
(1982-03-20) March 20, 1982 (age 40)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Other namesRuthless
ResidenceParkland, Florida, U.S.
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
DivisionWelterweight (2001–2004, 2013–present)
Middleweight (2004–2012, 2021)
Reach74 in (190 cm)[1]
Fighting out ofCoconut Creek, Florida, U.S.
TeamSanford MMA (2017–present)[2]
American Top Team (2013–2016)
Miletich Fighting Systems (2000–2013)
Years active2001–present
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout21
By submission1
By decision7
By knockout4
By submission5
By decision7
No contests1
Other information
SpouseMarcia Suzanne Lawler
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Robert Lawler (born March 20, 1982) is an American professional mixed martial artist who has been competing since 2001. He is a former UFC Welterweight Champion, former EliteXC Middleweight Champion, and has formerly competed in Strikeforce, PRIDE, and the IFL. Known for his aggressive fighting style, Lawler is the only fighter to have won three consecutive "Fight of the Year" awards from Sherdog and MMA Fighting, for his bouts against Johny Hendricks (at UFC 171, in 2014), Rory MacDonald (at UFC 189, in 2015), and Carlos Condit (at UFC 195, in 2016).[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Lawler was born in San Diego, California. He moved to Bettendorf, Iowa at the age of ten to live with his father, who served in the Marines. Lawler began training in taekwondo at the age of eight, picking up karate two years later.[4] Lawler attended Bettendorf High School where he received All-State honors in wrestling and football. Lawler was taken under the wing of Pat Miletich when he was 16 years old and began training with Miletich Fighting Systems as soon as he graduated in 2000.[5]

Mixed martial arts career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Lawler made his professional debut in 2001 and won his first four career fights all by TKO/KO.

Ultimate Fighting Championship[edit]

Lawler made his UFC debut at UFC 37 against veteran Aaron Riley. Lawler won the bout via unanimous decision. Lawler fought again in the next month against Steve Berger at UFC 37.5 and won via TKO.[6] In his next fight, Lawler faced another veteran, Tiki Ghosn at UFC 40 and won in a highlight-reel knockout.[7] Lawler then fought against Pete Spratt at UFC 42 and lost after he submitted due to a knee injury.[8] Lawler came back to get a win over fellow boxing and wrestling specialist Chris Lytle via unanimous decision at UFC 45.[citation needed]

In his next UFC bout, Lawler faced former WEC Welterweight Champion and future longtime Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz at UFC 47.[9] Lawler was handed the first of only two knockout losses of his career to date in the second round. Lawler then lost again at UFC 50 against the late Evan Tanner, who would win the UFC Middleweight Championship in his next fight.


Lawler then fought at SuperBrawl in Hawaii, defeating Falaniko Vitale via knockout to become the SuperBrawl Middleweight Champion.[10] Lawler then made his debut for King of the Cage, being scheduled to fight Jeremy Brown, and won via armbar submission.[11]

Lawler then faced Falaniko Vitale again, this time for the ICON Sport Middleweight Championship, and won again in the rematch by knockout, becoming the ICON Sport Middleweight Champion.[12]

In his next bout and first title defense, Lawler lost to Jason "Mayhem" Miller via arm-triangle choke submission.[13]

Lawler then made his PRIDE debut in Las Vegas, Nevada against Joey Villasenor at PRIDE 32 and won via knockout.

In his next fight, Lawler made his IFL debut in Atlanta, Georgia against Eduardo Pamplona and won via TKO.

On March 31, 2007, he fought Frank Trigg for the ICON Sport Middleweight Championship and won by KO in the fourth round, becoming the ICON Sport Middleweight Champion a second time.[14] On September 15, 2007, he fought PRIDE Fighting Championships veteran Murilo Rua for the EliteXC Middleweight Championship and won by TKO in the third round due to punches.[15]

Lawler was scheduled to fight Kala Hose for the ICON Sport Middleweight Championship on December 15, 2007, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Lawler however pulled out of the fight due to an injury. After pulling out again due to the same circumstances, ICON Sport stripped Lawler of the middleweight title on February 9, 2008, for failing to defend the title.[16]

Lawler defended his EliteXC Middleweight Championship against Scott Smith at EliteXC: Primetime on May 31, 2008, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, which ended in a no contest after Smith caught an accidental finger in the eye from Lawler.[17]

On July 26, 2008, Lawler and Scott Smith had their rematch at EliteXC: Unfinished Business. Lawler defeated Smith by TKO in the second round.[18]


After defeating Scott Smith, Lawler's employers, EliteXC, announced that they would be shutting down and filing for bankruptcy.[19] Lawler's contract was picked up by Strikeforce with his first bout under the Strikeforce banner on June 6, 2009, against Jake Shields. The bout was fought at a catchweight of 182 lb. Lawler lost via submission due to a guillotine choke at 2:02 of the first round.[20]

Lawler faced K-1 veteran Melvin Manhoef on January 30, 2010 at Strikeforce: Miami.[21] During the bout, Lawler suffered significant damage to his leg which Manhoef inflicted using leg kicks. In dramatic fashion, Lawler came back to win by knockout late in the first round with an overhand right.[22]

Lawler was expected to face Jason Miller on June 16, 2010, at Strikeforce: Los Angeles but Lawler instead faced former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Renato Sobral in a 195 lbs. Catchweight bout.[23] Lawler had two unsuccessful attempts to meet the 195 lbs mark at the Strikeforce: Los Angeles Weigh-Ins, but was finally booked for the fight weighing 195.5 pounds, after stepping on the scale for the third time. Sobral defeated Lawler via unanimous decision. Sobral utilized his reach advantage and grappling expertise to defeat the much smaller Lawler.[24]

Lawler fought Olympic Games silver medalist Matt Lindland at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II on December 4, 2010.[25] He defeated Lindland fifty seconds into the first round via KO.[26]

Lawler faced Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza on January 29, 2011 at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg.[27] Lawler rocked Souza in the first round but ended up losing the fight via submission in the third round.[28]

Lawler returned and faced Tim Kennedy at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson. He lost the fight via unanimous decision, being dominantly controlled throughout the fight on the floor by Kennedy.[29]

Lawler got back on track with a highlight reel first-round TKO victory due to a flying knee over rising prospect Adlan Amagov at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine.[30]

Lawler next faced Lorenz Larkin at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy on July 14, 2012.[31] He lost the fight via unanimous decision, despite rocking Larkin early in the first round with a short right hook.[32] He left Miletich Fighting Systems after this loss and joined Florida-based gym American Top Team.

Return to UFC[edit]

Lawler returned to the Welterweight division and faced Josh Koscheck on February 23, 2013 at UFC 157.[33] He won via first-round TKO. Koscheck visibly protested the stoppage, but replay footage showed he was not defending himself in a dangerous position, as Lawler landed repeated blows. The finish earned him the Knockout of the Night bonus.[34]

Lawler was expected to face former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec Saffiedine on July 27, 2013 at UFC on Fox 8.[35] However, Saffiedine was forced out of the bout with an injury and was replaced by Siyar Bahadurzada.[36] Then on July 11, it was announced that Bahadurzada also pulled out of the bout and was replaced by Bobby Voelker.[37] Lawler won the fight via knockout in the second round.

Lawler next faced Rory MacDonald at UFC 167.[38] He won the fight via split decision.[39]

On December 13, 2013 news came that Georges St-Pierre would be taking an indefinite break from MMA and vacate the UFC Welterweight Championship.[40] Following the announcement, Dana White announced that Lawler would face Johny Hendricks on March 15, 2014 at UFC 171 for the vacated title.[41] Lawler lost the close back-and-forth bout via unanimous decision. Despite the loss, the fight earned Lawler his first Fight of the Night bonus award.[42]

Returning quickly to the cage, Lawler replaced an injured Tarec Saffiedine and fought Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173 on May 24, 2014.[43] He won the fight via TKO in the third round due to a combination of a knee and punches.[44]

Lawler faced Matt Brown in a 5-round Welterweight title eliminator bout on July 26, 2014 at UFC on Fox 12.[45] He won the fight via unanimous decision. The win also earned him a Fight of the Night bonus award.[46]

UFC Welterweight Champion[edit]

Lawler fought a rematch with Johny Hendricks for the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 181 on December 6, 2014.[47] He won the fight, and the title, via split decision.[48]

A rematch with Rory MacDonald took place on July 11, 2015 at UFC 189.[49] Lawler retained his title in the fifth round via TKO.[50] The back and forth action earned both participants Fight of the Night honors.[51] The fight was considered an instant classic by fans and media alike with UFC President Dana White hailing it as one of the best welterweight fights in the promotion's history.[52] The fight was chosen as the Sherdog Fight of the Year for 2015.[53] The fight has since been acclaimed as one of the greatest in the history of mixed martial arts, voted the best fight in the history of the UFC in an ESPN poll in 2017.[54]

Lawler was expected to face Carlos Condit on November 15, 2015 at UFC 193.[55] However, the bout was scrapped from the event after Lawler suffered a thumb injury.[56] The fight was rescheduled as the headliner at UFC 195 on January 2, 2016.[57] Lawler defended his title, and defeated Condit via split decision in a very close fight.[58][59] The bout also earned Lawler his fourth Fight of the Night bonus award.[60]

Lawler faced Tyron Woodley on July 30, 2016 in the main event at UFC 201.[61] He lost the fight via knockout early in the first round, thus losing the title.[62]


Lawler was briefly linked to a bout with Donald Cerrone on November 12, 2016 at UFC 205.[63] However, just a few days after the announcement, it was revealed that Lawler had declined the fight to allow more recovery time from his last defeat.[64] He was replaced by The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen middleweight winner Kelvin Gastelum.[65]

Lawler was expected to face Cerrone on July 8, 2017 at UFC 213.[66] However, reports began to circulate on June 28 that Cerrone had sustained a minor injury and that the pairing would be left intact, but is expected to take place three weeks later at UFC 214.[67] UFC President Dana White confirmed later that same day that Cerrone in fact had a staph infection and a pulled groin.[68]

Lawler faced Cerrone on July 29, 2017 at UFC 214.[69] He won the fight via unanimous decision.[70] In the post fight interview, Lawler dedicated his win to Matt Hughes, who was involved in a truck accident in June 2017 and was then recovering from serious injuries.[71]

Lawler faced Rafael Dos Anjos on December 16, 2017 in the main event at UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. dos Anjos.[72][73] He lost the fight by unanimous decision,[74] and he suffered from a torn ACL from the fight which would prevent him from fighting in 2018.[75]

Lawler faced UFC newcomer Ben Askren on March 2, 2019, at UFC 235.[76] Although Lawler looked to have the upper hand on Askren early on in the fight, he eventually lost the fight due to a bulldog choke.[77] The ending of the fight was controversial because referee Herb Dean stopped the fight thinking that Lawler had passed out when this may not have been the case; Lawler's arm appeared to go limp indicating he had passed out, however, while Dean was checking to see if he was out he appeared to signal a thumbs up and jumped up fully conscious straight after the stoppage. Despite that, Nevada State Athletic Commission director Bob Bennett was in full support of Dean's decision to stop the fight.[78]

A rematch with Tyron Woodley was expected to take place on June 29, 2019 at UFC on ESPN 3.[79] On May 16, 2019 it was reported that Woodley suffered a hand injury and was pulled from the fight. The bout was ultimately scrapped.[80]

Lawler faced Colby Covington on August 3, 2019 at UFC on ESPN 5.[81] He lost the bout via unanimous decision.[82]

Lawler was scheduled to face Santiago Ponzinibbio on December 14, 2019 at UFC 245.[83] However, on October 12, 2019, it was revealed that Ponzinibbio had pulled out of the fight due to a staph infection.[84]

Lawler faced Neil Magny, replacing Geoff Neal, on August 29, 2020 at UFC Fight Night 175.[85] He lost the fight via unanimous decision.[86]

Lawler was expected to face Mike Perry on November 21, 2020, at UFC 255. However, due to injuries, Lawler pulled out of the bout.[87]

Lawler faced returning veteran Nick Diaz in a rematch on September 25, 2021 at UFC 266. The bout was contested at middleweight and was a special non-title, non-main event five round fight.[88][89] In the third round, Lawler knocked down Diaz, who did not respond to the referee's instruction to return to his feet. As a result Lawler was awarded the win by TKO.[90]

Lawler faced Bryan Barberena on July 2, 2022, at UFC 276.[91] He lost the back-and-forth bout by TKO in the second round.[92] This fight earned him a Fight of the Night award.[93]

Lawler was scheduled to face Santiago Ponzinibbio on December 10, 2022, at UFC 282.[94] However, the week of the event, Lawler was forced to withdraw due to an undisclosed injury.[95]

Personal life[edit]

Lawler also has an elder brother.[4] He is married to Marcia Suzanne Lawler (née Fritz)[96] and has a son.[97]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Mixed martial arts[edit]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
46 matches 29 wins 16 losses
By knockout 21 4
By submission 1 5
By decision 7 7
No contests 1
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 29–16 (1) Bryan Barberena TKO (punches) UFC 276 July 2, 2022 2 4:47 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Fight of the Night.
Win 29–15 (1) Nick Diaz TKO (retirement) UFC 266 September 25, 2021 3 0:44 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Middleweight bout.
Loss 28–15 (1) Neil Magny Decision (unanimous) UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakić August 29, 2020 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 28–14 (1) Colby Covington Decision (unanimous) UFC on ESPN: Covington vs. Lawler August 3, 2019 5 5:00 Newark, New Jersey, United States
Loss 28–13 (1) Ben Askren Technical Submission (bulldog choke) UFC 235 March 2, 2019 1 3:20 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 28–12 (1) Rafael dos Anjos Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. dos Anjos December 16, 2017 5 5:00 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Win 28–11 (1) Donald Cerrone Decision (unanimous) UFC 214 July 29, 2017 3 5:00 Anaheim, California, United States
Loss 27–11 (1) Tyron Woodley KO (punches) UFC 201 July 30, 2016 1 2:12 Atlanta, Georgia, United States Lost the UFC Welterweight Championship.
Win 27–10 (1) Carlos Condit Decision (split) UFC 195 January 2, 2016 5 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Defended the UFC Welterweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win 26–10 (1) Rory MacDonald TKO (punches) UFC 189 July 11, 2015 5 1:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Defended the UFC Welterweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win 25–10 (1) Johny Hendricks Decision (split) UFC 181 December 6, 2014 5 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Won the UFC Welterweight Championship.
Win 24–10 (1) Matt Brown Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown July 26, 2014 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States UFC Welterweight title eliminator; Brown missed weight (172.5 lb). Fight of the Night.
Win 23–10 (1) Jake Ellenberger TKO (knee and punches) UFC 173 May 24, 2014 3 3:06 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 22–10 (1) Johny Hendricks Decision (unanimous) UFC 171 March 15, 2014 5 5:00 Dallas, Texas, United States For the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win 22–9 (1) Rory MacDonald Decision (split) UFC 167 November 16, 2013 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 21–9 (1) Bobby Voelker KO (head kick and punch) UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Moraga July 27, 2013 2 0:24 Seattle, Washington, United States
Win 20–9 (1) Josh Koscheck TKO (knee and punches) UFC 157 February 23, 2013 1 3:57 Anaheim, California, United States Return to Welterweight. Knockout of the Night.
Loss 19–9 (1) Lorenz Larkin Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy July 14, 2012 3 5:00 Portland, Oregon, United States
Win 19–8 (1) Adlan Amagov TKO (flying knee and punches) Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine January 7, 2012 1 1:48 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 18–8 (1) Tim Kennedy Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson July 30, 2011 3 5:00 Hoffman Estates, Illinois, United States
Loss 18–7 (1) Ronaldo Souza Submission (rear-naked choke) Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg January 29, 2011 3 2:00 San Jose, California, United States For the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship.
Win 18–6 (1) Matt Lindland KO (punch) Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II December 4, 2010 1 0:50 St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Loss 17–6 (1) Renato Sobral Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Los Angeles June 16, 2010 3 5:00 Los Angeles, California, United States Catchweight (195 lb) bout.
Win 17–5 (1) Melvin Manhoef KO (punch) Strikeforce: Miami January 30, 2010 1 3:33 Sunrise, Florida, United States
Loss 16–5 (1) Jake Shields Submission (guillotine choke) Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields June 6, 2009 1 2:02 St. Louis, Missouri, United States Catchweight (180 lb) bout.
Win 16–4 (1) Scott Smith TKO (soccer kicks and punches) EliteXC: Unfinished Business July 26, 2008 2 2:35 Stockton, California, United States Defended the EliteXC Middleweight Championship.
NC 15–4 (1) Scott Smith NC (accidental eye poke) EliteXC: Primetime May 31, 2008 3 3:26 Newark, New Jersey, United States Retained the EliteXC Middleweight Championship. Accidental eye poke rendered Smith unable to continue.
Win 15–4 Murilo Rua KO (punches) EliteXC: Uprising September 15, 2007 3 2:04 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Won the EliteXC Middleweight Championship.
Win 14–4 Frank Trigg KO (punches) ICON Sport: Epic March 31, 2007 4 1:40 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Won the ICON Sport Middleweight Championship.
Win 13–4 Eduardo Pamplona TKO (punches) IFL: Atlanta February 23, 2007 3 1:36 Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Win 12–4 Joey Villaseñor KO (flying knee) PRIDE 32 October 21, 2006 1 0:22 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 11–4 Jason Miller Submission (arm-triangle choke) ICON Sport: Mayhem vs. Lawler September 2, 2006 3 2:50 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Lost the ICON Sport Middleweight Championship.
Win 11–3 Falaniko Vitale KO (punches) ICON Sport: Lawler vs. Niko II February 25, 2006 1 3:38 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Won the ICON Sport Middleweight Championship.
Win 10–3 Jeremy Brown Submission (armbar) KOTC: Xtreme Edge September 17, 2005 1 2:48 Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Win 9–3 Falaniko Vitale KO (punches) SuperBrawl: Icon July 23, 2005 2 4:36 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Won the SuperBrawl Middleweight Championship.
Loss 8–3 Evan Tanner Submission (triangle choke) UFC 50 October 22, 2004 1 2:22 Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Middleweight debut.
Loss 8–2 Nick Diaz KO (punch) UFC 47 April 2, 2004 2 1:31 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 8–1 Chris Lytle Decision (unanimous) UFC 45 November 21, 2003 3 5:00 Uncasville, Connecticut, United States
Loss 7–1 Pete Spratt TKO (knee injury) UFC 42 April 25, 2003 2 2:28 Miami, Florida, United States
Win 7–0 Tiki Ghosn KO (punches) UFC 40 November 22, 2002 1 1:29 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 6–0 Steve Berger TKO (punches) UFC 37.5 June 22, 2002 2 0:27 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 5–0 Aaron Riley Decision (unanimous) UFC 37 May 10, 2002 3 5:00 Bossier City, Louisiana, United States
Win 4–0 Saburo Kawakatsu TKO (punches) Shogun 1 December 15, 2001 1 4:49 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Win 3–0 Marco Macera TKO (punches) Extreme Challenge 41 July 13, 2001 1 1:19 Davenport, Iowa, United States
Win 2–0 Landon Showalter KO (punches) IFC: Warriors Challenge 13 June 15, 2001 1 0:14 Fresno, California, United States
Win 1–0 John Reed TKO (punches) Extreme Challenge 39 April 7, 2001 1 2:14 Springfield, Illinois, United States


Pay-per-view bouts[edit]

No. Event Fight Venue City PPV Buys
1. UFC 171 Hendricks vs. Lawler American Airlines Center Dallas, Texas 300,000[115]
2. UFC 181 Hendricks vs. Lawler II Mandalay Bay Events Center Las Vegas, Nevada 400,000[116]
3. UFC 195 Lawler vs. Condit MGM Grand Garden Arena Las Vegas, Nevada 230,000[117]
4. UFC 201 Lawler vs. Woodley Philips Arena Atlanta, Georgia 240,000[118]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Preceded by 2nd Elite XC Middleweight Champion
September 15, 2007 – October 20, 2008
Succeeded by
Elite XC ceased operations
Preceded by 10th UFC Welterweight Champion
December 6, 2014 – July 30, 2016
Succeeded by