Two of the hardest hitters in all of mixed martial arts (MMA) will collide at UFC 171 on March 15, 2014 in Dallas, Texas, as Robbie Lawler takes on Johny Hendricks for the vacant Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title.
It's a title fight that will see a new champion crowed in the weight class for the first time in seven years, thanks to Georges St-Pierre's longtime stranglehold on the division. It's also a championship fight that has a high possibility of not going to the judges' scorecards as both "Ruthless" and "Bigg Rigg" have proven they have the power and technique to put people's lights out in the blink of an eye.
And it's that danger that Hendricks is weary of as he heads into the bout against a man who looks to put a cherry on top of his recent run that may have caught most of the fight community off guard. Hendricks, however, isn't too surprised at Lawler's recent success, acknowledging on The MMA Hour that Robbie's "heavy hands" are part of the big reason he is in a title fight.
The very hands "Bigg Rigg" will be trying his hardest to avoid.
"No, (not surprised), he's got some heavy hands and if you watch his fight, they're sort of even and then all of a sudden, Robbie catches them. That's something that I really have to focus on, is making sure that I don't get caught. There are a couple of things he will do, and then when you put him in certain situations he will come firing. In the fights that I've seen, people sort of wait. They're like, what's he going to do?' Then, boom, it's over. Then he'll jump on them and hit them a couple of more times and it's really over. So, that's what I have to make sure is, that with him, that I'm out of range if I want to relax. If I'm in range, I have to be 100-percent tight and throwing punches and not let him get off too much. That's the type of fight I have to put on."
Like Mark Hunt before him, Lawler has shown that regardless of how long you've been in the mixed martial arts (MMA) game without getting your fair share of the spotlight, it's never to late to make a Cinderella-type run.
Since losing to Lorenz Larkin via unanimous decision back in 2012 -- his last fight under the Strikeforce banner --"Ruthless" has gone a perfect 3-0 since returning to the UFC ranks. And he's done it in impressive fashion, getting knockout wins over Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker and crushing Rory MacDonald's championship dreams via unanimous decision at UFC 167.
Those wins were good enough to finally earn Robbie his much-desired crack at the vacant welterweight title against Hendricks in "Big D." And with a win over "Bigg Rigg," Lawler will join his buddies who have also held UFC gold at some point in there career.
And in a sense, he'll finally get to step out of their huge shadows, as well.