Lawler reignited his career earlier this year, stepping in as a huge underdog against former title challenger Josh Koscheck and finishing The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season one veteran in the first round.
Voelker was never much more than a Strikeforce Challengers fighter during his stint with the promotion, but his string over victories in a trilogy against Roger Bowling earned him a UFC debut where he put on a stellar performance against Patrick Cote in a losing effort. He stepped up on short notice to take the Lawler fight when former Strikeforce welterweight champion Taric Saffiedine backed out with an injury.
Record: 20-9 (1 No Contest) overall, 5-3 in the UFC
How he got here: After first getting scouted at a Hawaiian MMA event in his fourth professional fight, Lawler was pegged as the next golden boy of the UFC. He got off to a great start with the Ultimate Fighting Championships with three straight wins but a tough stretch of three losses out of four fights would end his time with the world's largest promotion.
Lawler would spend the next two years building himself back up, eventually fighting for and winning the EliteXC middleweight title from Murilo Rua in 2007. He would successfully defend his title once before the promotion folded.
The H.I.T. Squad fighter would lose his Strikeforce promotional debut to Jake Shields but would rebound in an incredible comeback performance against Melvin Manhoef. After losing a very close decision to former light heavyweight Ranato Sobral at a 195 lb. catchweight, Lawler would go on to absolutely destroy Matt Lindland in another of 2010's nastiest knockouts.
The victory would earn him a title shot against Strikeforce middleweight champion "Jacare" Souza and Lawler would hold his own with the incredibly gifted fighter for over two rounds but would eventually be overwhelmed by the Brazilian's strength on the ground, succumbing to a third round submission.
Lawler accepted a bout with Tim Kennedy which had middleweight title contendership on the line. In that fight, the "Ruthless" fighter was tentative and didn't do nearly enough to impress the judges as he would go on to lose a unanimous decision. He bounced back impressively with a huge stoppage against top prospect Adlan Amagov, but after a tough loss at the hands of Lorenz Larkin, Lawler returned to welterweight to take on Josh Koscheck in the UFC.
In that bout, Lawler fended of Koscheck's takedown attempts and shocked the MMA world by landing a knee and heavy punches to finish the former top contender inside the first round. Now, he's looking to keep the momentum rolling and the underdog/favorite roles are reversed against Bobby Voelker.
How he gets it done: Robbie Lawler is a decent wrestler but it's the power in both of his fists that make him deadly. No matter if he's down on the cards, he'll always have that threat of the one-punch knockout, just ask Melvin Manhoef.
Lawler is capable of overwhelming his opposition with punches and knees, but he can't sit back and be too patient like he was in several of his previous losses where he was too concerned about the takedown or just hesitant to engage. He's got to find that buffer zone where he can be aggressive enough to land the heavy knockout blow but not so reckless that he leaves himself wide open to strikes from the durable Voelker.
"Ruthless" Robbie is at his best when he has no respect for his opponents. It's during those times that he steps up the aggression and really goes for the kill. Voelker can take a lot of punishment and keep moving forward so Lawler shouldn't be thinking he can knock him out easily. If he hurts Voelker, of course he should pounce, but if it doesn't happen, the current ATT fighter should be prepared to pace himself for up to 15 minutes of action.
Record: 24-9 overall, 0-1 in the UFC
Key Wins: Roger Bowling 2x (Strikeforce Challengers 17, 11)
Key Losses: Patrick Cote (UFC 158), Roger Bowling (Strikeforce Challengers 8)
How he got here: Bobby Voelker has been competing for a while now, going 9-0 on the Kansas City amateur circuit over 10 years ago starting in 2002. He turned pro in 2006 and quickly scored a victory over eventual UFC veteran Kyle Bradley in just his second fight.
The "Vicious" fighter became a staple of Kansas City's Titan Fighting Championship promotion, competing in 10 of the company's first 14 events against some top competition which gained him enough exposure to catch the eye of the Strikeforce Challengers crew.
Voelker would compete five times under the Strikeforce Challengers banner from 2009-2011, and surprisingly three of those bouts took place against rival Roger Bowling. After losing a technical decision in their first meeting, he would go on to finish Bowling in consecutive bouts, enduring a first round beating every time only to bounce back.
He took two years off from fighting but when Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa, Voelker was brought into the UFC fold to face former middleweight title challenger Patrick Cote. The durable welterweight gave Cote all he could handle for three rounds but wound up on the receiving end of a close decision this past March.
When Taric Saffiedine backed out of the Lawler fight with an injury, Voelker stepped up on short notice to accept the bout.
How he gets it done: Voelker has never been the most technical fighter out there, but what he does have going for him is his incredible heart and some serious durability inside the cage. It may not be the best strategy for a long-term fighting future, but he can take a licking and keep on ticking and he's proved it time and time again.
Look for Voelker to try and force exchanges with Lawler early on. Even if Lawler is winning them, he should have faith in his ability to bounce back from punishment and hit even harder. Lawler possesses tremendous power, but Voelker can slug it out just as well, he just hasn't had the opportunities his opponent has had.
If Voelker can wear Lawler out with some heavy trades in the pocket, he more than has the ability to rise to the occasion in the second or third rounds. Those have become a trademark of his and don't be surprised if he shocks Lawler after getting hurt early in the fight. That's just who Voelker is.
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