A prospect squared off against a serious veteran last night (July 14, 2012) as former light heavyweight standout Lorenz Larkin took on former Strikeforce middleweight title challenger "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler in the opening bout of the Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy main card in Portland, Oregon.
Larkin was coming off a tough knockout loss to former light heavyweight champion Muhammed Lawal, which had been reversed into a no contest following a positive steroid test, and he was making his debut at 185 pounds.
After a rocky start, "The Monsoon" found his groove and poured it on the H.I.T. Squad product, opening up a big cut and simply outclassing him for the entire fight.
So how did Larkin handle such a tough test? And what happens next for both men?
Follow me after the jump for our Lorenz Larkin vs. Robbie Lawler Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy post-fight review and analysis.
Lawler actually started strong. He was throwing kicks and hanging with Larkin and then hurt "The Monsoon" with a short right hand to the temple that had the debuting middleweight on roller skates and he swarmed him with huge hooks but couldn't get another to find its mark.
What really hurt Lawler was his next decision to stay and clinch with Larkin. He was not getting any offense off and not only did he allow Larkin to fully recover, but Larkin started blasting him with some beautiful short elbows and he was getting the better of him on the inside by a landslide.
Larkin surprised the hell out of Lawler with a slick trip takedown from the clinch and he proceeded to drop some big shots on the veteran before "Ruthless" Robbie could get back to his feet.
From here on out, Lawler respected Larkin and that was to his disadvantage as he never had that same aggression or tenacity in his striking for the remainder of the bout.
Lawler was hesitant throughout the rest of the first round and the final two round, easily allowing Larkin to have his way with him and showcase his full arsenal of strikes from snapping leg and body kicks to push and side kicks as well as spinning attacks and those regular, dependable punches.
Lawler was basically a punching bag for the final two rounds and he began bleeding heavily from a nasty cut for much of the latter half of the fight. His only offense was to clinch with Larkin and he'd just wind up losing ground there as well. In the end, Larkin easily took a unanimous decision.
For Robbie Lawler, this was a huge regression. He showed signs of his old self against Adlan Amagov and he started strong but the second he realized Larkin was as good of a striker as him, the instant he gained respect for his opponent, he shut down. He was finding success in the pocket early but for some completely unknown reason, he just started clinching with Larkin when he should have been taking a step back and punching him in the head. The worst part was his hesitancy in the final round when he had to have known he was down on the cards.
For Lorenz Larkin, he got a great opportunity to showcase everything he's been working on. His striking was crisp and, after that scary first minute, he was extremely composed and calm under pressure. He even showcased some of that new wrestling he'd been working on. The best part was he kept attacking, even though he had the fight in the bag. He really was going after Lawler with elbows in the waning seconds of the fight and that's something the fans can really appreciate.
There are all kinds of opponents for Larkin depending on what the promotion wants to do with him. He could face fellow main card winner Roger Gracie, perhaps the upcoming winner of Ronaldo Souza vs. Derek Brunson or, if Strikeforce feels he's ready, he might even be given the next title shot against Luke Rockhold. There are plenty of possibilities for "The Monsoon."
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you disappointed by Lawler's lack of aggression after the opening minute? Did Larkin impress you with his all-around skills?