Robbie Lawler was expected to face a firm test from a rising prospect last night (January 7, 2012) in the co-main event of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine, when wily Russian striker Adlan Amagov challenged his place in the middleweight division.
Instead Lawler, who apparently had been battling medical issues in some of his recent fights, showcased exactly why he's considered one of the most dangerous and powerful middleweights on the planet.
Amagov was known for his trademark flashy stand-up, but he was completely unable to score with any major significant blows in the stand-up portion of the fight.
So what was the key factor which allowed Lawler to do his damage? And where do both men go from here?
Lawler is a fighter who typically fights more aggressive when he has less respect for his opponents. He came out guns blazing against Amagov, pushing forward and throwing with very bad intentions. To Amagov's credit, he wisely ducked a reckless Lawler haymaker and put him on his back.
Everything seemed to be going well for the Russian. He was controlling Lawler, they were scrambling on the ground, working back to the feet and canvas but then he screwed up big time. While Lawler was clearly grounded, Amagov threw a knee to the top of his head which not only gave "Ruthless" a free trip back to his feet, but a brief break as well.
To make matters worse, he was deducted a point.
Not content to rest on being up a point, Lawler took the initiative. Despite Amagov being the fighter known for his wild and crazy striking style, it was Lawler who ducked down, then exploded forwards with a huge flying knee.
The knee grazed the top of Amagov's skull and in the scramble, Lawler quickly turned and proceeded to rain down huge left and right hands from behind. When the Russian's head dropped to the canvas, the referee put a halt to the action.
For Adlan Amagov, he seemed to be doing fine until the illegal knee. His ground skills were neutralizing Lawler's offense but after he had a point taken away, it seemed he lost his direction. He seemed much more hesitant and indecisive when he was standing with Lawler and that allowed his opponent to gain confidence and go on the attack again. He's still a very talented fighter, but he should get another lower level opponent next to build up his self esteem.
For Robbie Lawler, this was the type of performance fans had been hoping to see out of him against Tim Kennedy. He's capable of incredible violence, but against fighters who can take him down, he takes considerably less risk. Hopefully he can try something equally crazy or entertaining against someone at the top of the division. The problem with Lawler is he's already fought both Jacare and Tim Kennedy and lost. The only other guy at the very top of the division is Luke Rockhold, but that likely won't happen until he scores at least another win. Perhaps someone like Lamumba Sayers or if Strikeforce can sign a top middleweight from somewhere else. There aren't many options for him at the moment.
Perhaps this will all be sorted out in due time, but for now, Lawler is left grasping at straws.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed by Lawler's killer instinct? Do you think he can earn another Strikeforce title shot in 2012?