With his second rousing knockout win since returning to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) earlier this year, Robbie Lawler is now Welterweight division's most exciting guy to watch. A decade ago, when he burst on the scene with a series of devastating wins, "Ruthless" had the mark of a future champion.
Having returned older, wiser and more refined in his approach, he's still a helluva' lot of fun to watch.
In taking out Bobby Voelker last night (Sat., July 27, 2013) at UFC on Fox 8, which took place from KeyArena in Seattle, Wash., Lawler sent notice with another devastating finish (watch it here) to the rest of the division that his destructive knockout of Josh Koscheck at UFC 157 five months ago was no fluke.
Indeed, he's a vexing assignment for any 170-pound mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.
And with tons of experience, especially fighting some of the better Middleweight competition in the sport, Lawler's return to the UFC at 170 pounds has come full circle. Like Vitor Belfort, who followed a similar career trajectory, he may be be bringing his best game in his mid-30s, which is not something you expect from someone who emerges so young as a potential star.
Typically, they burn out.
So what's next for Lawler? I think a match with Brazilian stud Erick Silva would be epic. Silva has a lot of similar tools -- he's physically powerful and likes to overwhelm people, and, like Lawler, he comes to win by knockout, not on points.
Plus, while Silva's done a great job of pretty much operating as the division's in-house blanket killer in dispatching Charlie Brenneman and Jason High (and giving Jon Fitch a spirited battle), I'd like to see him against a similar style.
We know he can be brutal on wrestlers gunning to take him down. Let's put him in against Lawler, who never met an exchange he didn't believe he could get the better of.
Regardless, wherever Lawler goes from here -- even if its against Rory MacDonald (details here) -- he's going to draw a lot of attention. And each time he registers one of his trademark stoppages, it's a sobering reminder that what "could have been" regarding his UFC career may well still be ahead of him.
And that's a scary proposition for the other guy in the cage.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst