clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

History in the Making: Robbie Lawler knocks out Frank Trigg in the best middleweight title fight you've never seen

Robbie Lawler is only 29-years-old but don't let his age fool you.

He is a battle-hardened veteran of over 10 years, having fought all over the country from the small regional promotions to the big dogs like UFC and Pride.

He's a former multiple time champion, earning belts for Icon Sport and EliteXC. He has used the dynamite in his hands to get himself to the top and he's hoping -- with a win over Tim Kennedy at Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Henderson" -- to get back to the top of the mountain.

One highlight in his decade long career was his title fight against Frank Trigg where he won the Icon Sport middleweight title for the second time. It's a forgotten classic, a fight of attrition that saw each fighter dig in deep to pull out the win.

Let's have a look see how it was Lawler that dug deeper.

"Ruthless" first stepped into the Octagon at the age of 20.

Most guys at that age are barely holding downs jobs at the mall or screwing around in college.

But Lawler was trading leather at the highest level of the sport. Not only that, he had the hype of the vaunted Miletich Fighting Systems camp behind him, a group that produced fighters like Matt Hughes, Jeremy Horn, and Tim Sylvia.

He rattled off three straight wins before succumbing to leg kicks from Pete Spratt. He bounced back with a win over Chris Lytle but that's when he ran into Nick Diaz.

The smack talking bad boy from Stockton handed Lawler arguably the most embarrassing loss of his career. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) expert was supposed to try to take the heavy-handed slugger to the ground.

Instead, Diaz knocked "Ruthless" out and with a submission loss to the late Evan Tanner, he was also knocked out of the UFC.

An important fact about the bout with Tanner though was that the San Diego-native moved up from 170-pounds to the middleweight division. It was at this weight that Lawler would find the greatest success in his career.

He signed with the then-named SuperBrawl promotion and won their 185-pound strap by knocking out Falaniko Vitale. Once the Hawaii-based company changed their name to Icon Sport, he rematched his foe and earned yet another stoppage victory and another belt.

Lawler's taste of gold wanted last long as he would lose his title to Jason Miller six months later.

"Ruthless" then fought -- and won -- in the now-defunct Pride FC and International Fight League (IFL) promotion before heading back to Hawaii. Miller had lost the title to Frank Trigg, robbing him of the chance for revenge but winning titles and establishing a legacy seemed more important to Lawler.

Let's take a closer look.

"Twinkle Toes" knows better than to stand and trade with Lawler and almost immediately takes the fight to the ground. But despite being on his back, "Ruthless" stays busy and connects with several shots to Trigg before they get stood up.

The first round continues to be a repeat of this scenario. Trigg will take the former champ down, punish him, and Lawler will get back to his feet. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's not enough to "Ruthless" to get off his back, he has to score some offense if he's hoping to win.

He takes this sentiment to heart and comes out in the second by viciously attacking the body. The quickest way to break someone's will, their fighting spirit, is to ravage the body. 

Lawler knows this and if Trigg didn't already, he was getting a crash course on the subject courtesy of "Ruthless."

A failed takedown attempt from "Twinkle Toes" opens him up to a huge uppercut from the challenger that knocks Trigg onto his back. Lawler's killer instinct kicks in but he's unable to put the champ away.

Another jab from Lawler leads to yet another knock down and the champion is in dire straits going into the third round.

Despite appearing to have next to nothing in his gas tank, the champion starts to press on the gas in the next round. He begins to bully the challenger around the ring before getting him on his back.

He delivers from ground and pound before "Ruthless" is able to get vertical. Trigg keeps up the pressure and lands a handful of jabs before scoring another takedown.

Both fighters are exhausted. Both fighters are bloody. Both fighters want this win.

Muscles screaming for oxygen, both fighters try to keep from collapsing due to complete and utter exhaustion. But despite how tired he is, despite how much he may want to quit, "Ruthless" still has the power to put nearly any man to sleep.

A hook crashes across Trigg's jaw and he's staggered. And then another and another. Trigg is out on his feet and he slumps down along the ropes.

An uppercut from Lawler puts the exclamation point on this fight as the crowd erupts.

Take a look:

Video via RawMMA

When discussing fighters and age, two different numbers are brought up. Actual age and fighting age.

While Lawler is young at 29-years, he's been in the game for over a decade and has the war scars to prove it.

Does he have enough in him to make one more run at the top?

He has to get past Tim Kennedy first.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania