Robbie Lawler has a firm seat at the drawing board after sustaining a loss this past June to current Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields. It was a disappointing evening for "Ruthless," who got caught in a deep guillotine choke and forced to tap very early into the first round. It was his first taste of defeat since September 2006.
Needless to say, he's been anxious to return to action.
Lawler, who has won fifteen of his eighteen professional fights by way of knockout, will take on a man in "Marvelous" Melvin Manhoef, who has twenty three knockouts in twenty four career victories.
In other words, it should be fun while it lasts.
In addition to Manhoef, Lawler took some time out to discuss his disappointing loss to Jake Shields, getting pulled from the December Strikeforce card, Herschel Walker, and his beloved San Diego Chargers.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I haven't talked to you since right before your fight with Jake Shields. That night it looked like it was turning into the type of fight that you would have wanted. You shrugged off a takedown or two or his and you had him standing. Did you feel like things were going as planned prior to the submission?
Robbie Lawler: I think I was doing real well and it was just going to be a matter of time, but I made a mistake and he took advantage of it.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I know you weren't too thrilled about the 182 lb. catchweight going into that fight. Did that work out okay for you in the end? Would you ever agree to something like that again?
Robbie Lawler: I don't really know at this time what I think about that. At the time I wasn't very happy.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): If you did it next time you would probably want to agree on it up front instead of after the fact, correct?
Robbie Lawler: Yeah, probably.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You were supposed to come back and fight Benji Radach on the December Strikeforce card. Then it was Trevor Prangley who pulled out with an injury at the last minute. Can you describe for me what those few weeks leading up to the event were like for you?
Robbie Lawler: I was just getting ready for a fight. I knew there were two possible opponents for about 4-5 weeks. As the fight got closer it became another guy. Then about two weeks before the fight they found out he couldn't fight and it was going to be Trevor Prangley. I'm like, "Okay, I'll take that fight." The Monday before I headed out he got hurt, obviously.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Then you ended up flying to San Jose for the event anyways.
Robbie Lawler: When I actually found out about it I was on my way to the airport.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Did they compensate you for the fight even though it did not take place?
Robbie Lawler: They did to a certain extent. I can't really go into the details.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like you have had enough time to prepare for Melvin Manhoef?
Robbie Lawler: I mean, I've been training full time and just training hard. It is what it is. I'm fighting in a week so let's get it done.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Are you a guy that likes to watch tape on your opponent?
Robbie Lawler: My coaches have been watching. I watched a few fights. I watch some. At the beginning of my career I did not, but now I watch a little bit.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Manhoef is a recent signee by Strikeforce. They've also gone out and gotten guys like Dan Henderson, Muhammad Lawal, etc... What are your thoughts on some of their recent signings and the direction the company is going in as a whole?
Robbie Lawler: I think as far as the signings go there are a bunch of tough guys. They are really top notch fighters, especially at 185 pounds. Other than that I think they are doing well signing guys.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): What are your thoughts about a guy like Herschel Walker getting into the sport of MMA and being signed by Strikeforce?
Robbie Lawler: Well, I don't really know. Herschel Walker is a really nice guy. I had a chance to talk to him for a really quick second. Should he on the main card? I know he's a main card draw, but it's just weird that a guy who hasn't ever fought in MMA would hop in at this level.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you think it would be more appropriate if he was on the undercard or maybe on a Strikeforce Challengers card?
Robbie Lawler: Yeah, I think so, but I'm not the one calling the shots. Maybe he'll prove otherwise.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Back to Manhoef. He has been fighting overseas basically his whole career. A lot of mainstream fans in the US aren't that familiar with him. How would you describe his style to them?
Robbie Lawler: Really good kickboxing. Good hands. He's a K-1 guy. Knockout power.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Because he has that aggressive style and likes to stand and trade is he a guy you especially look forward to fighting as opposed to a grappler like Jake Shields, or it a fight a fight in your eyes?
Robbie Lawler: I don't really try to look at matchups so much. A fight is a fight. He's good at what he does and I have to look for weaknesses and take advantage of certain situations. Hopefully I get him before he gets me.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Assuming you come away from this fight in good health would you hope to be apart of the April show on CBS?
Robbie Lawler: I would like to fight in April. (Matt) Hughes has a fight I'll be going out to and I don't know how close that is to his fight. It's definitely something I'd like to do, get on the CBS card. I tried to get on the last CBS card.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You and Hughes are synonymous with the H.I.T. Squad gym in Granite City, IL, but over the past few months some of your other teammates like Matt Veach and Brian Foster have been getting their shot on the big stage. What is it like for you to see those guys find success?
Robbie Lawler: It's good. They're good fighters. They're tough kids. They're taking advantage of their opportunities.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I heard you are a big football guy. What team do you follow?
Robbie Lawler: Well I was following the Chargers, but ... That's my team and they lost so I'm just watching now.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): So their game with the New York Jets was probably hard to watch for you.
Robbie Lawler: Yep.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): They just re-signed their head coach Norv Turner for three years. Is that a good decision in your eyes or not?
Robbie Lawler: I liked Marty (Schottenheimer). I believe they ran the ball and they were a more physical team. I think their offense is capable of putting up a lot of points but they're just not as physical and with time off they don't come back as fresh. I think if they play week in and week out they are going to progress but I think time off killed them. Maybe it was bad coaching, maybe bad preparation. I don't know.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Would you bring back LaDainian Tomlinson for another year?
Robbie Lawler: I think you have to. He just turned 30. There are guys out there who are putting up good stats at 30 like Thomas Jones, who is a really good running back. They are not an offense that runs the ball much. They are more of a pass first team, which is fine, but I feel like when they run the ball the whole stadium knows they're running the ball. They've got at least one tight end and a good fullback, why not spread them out and pass? Or spread them out and run? You don't have to line up letting everyone know you're going to run.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Finally, who do you think will win the Super Bowl trophy?
Robbie Lawler: I'm going with the NFC and I'm hoping for the Vikings.*
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Any sponsors you would like to thank before we go?
Robbie Lawler: I would like to thank Toyo Tires and Tapout.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Appreciate the time Robbie. We'll do it again soon.
Robbie Lawler: Okay, thanks.
* Interview was completed just prior to the NFC championship game.
Derek Bolender is a contributor to MMAmania.com. He is also a syndicated writer to FoxSports.com and SI.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DerekMMAwriter.