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UFC 171: 'Mature' Robbie Lawler ready to step into championship spotlight with win over Johny Hendricks

No longer the quiet kid, Robbie Lawler says he is ready to embrace the MMA spotlight as he gears up for his first-ever UFC title fight against Johny Hendricks for the vacant welterweight strap at UFC 171.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

As a former member of the famed Miletich Fighting Systems (MFS), Robbie Lawler was a young, quiet fighter trying to absorb as much as he could and learn from a seasoned squad of veteran fighters.

A team that included former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, former lightweight titleholder Jens Pulver and former welterweight kingpin, Matt Hughes.

But after the years passed and the aforementioned championship fighting careers have ended, Lawler is now on the verge of getting his own share of the spotlight as he gets set to challenge Johny Hendricks for the vacant 170-pound title at UFC 171 on March 15, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

According to "Ruthless," it's an opportunity he's ready for now that he's a much more mature fighter. Something Robbie admits he wasn't ready or looking for in his younger days.

His words on today's (March 5, 2014) UFC 171 media conference call.

"Outside the ring, I never wanted to do the PR and I never wanted to be in the light, nor was I ready to be in the light. I'm just a quiet guy who loves to fight. I think now that I've matured, I'm ready to take that step and I'm embracing everything that has to do with being in the UFC. I'm ready to be out there in front of everyone and I'm ready to do what it takes to be a champion."

Listen to the full audio replay of the UFC 171 presser here.

Lawler earned the right to face "Bigg Rigg" for the the title -- the one Georges St-Pierre abandoned -- after defeating Rory MacDonald at UFC 167 last November (highlights).

The win marked his third straight since returning to the world-famous Octagon last year after having a sub-par run under the Strikeforce banner from 2009 to 2012.

And with his first-ever UFC title fight looming, "Ruthless" would love nothing more than to show that the young fighter who once trained under some rather huge shadows, is more than ready to break into the spotlight with a championship of his own.

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