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Vertigo stricken UFC champion Robbie Lawler once took six years off from sparring

"Ruthless" discusses his reasoning behind pulling back on sparring, which took place for a lengthy period following his departure from UFC 11 years ago.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Robbie Lawler went from a heralded youngster in mixed martial arts (MMA) to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) cast-off in a span of two years in 2004. But "Ruthless" managed to complete an awe-inspiring turnaround to his combat sports career by returning to the promotion over two years ago to capture the welterweight title.

Lawler, 33, entered the sport in his teens, competing in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions. He achieved success in both weight classes, capturing middleweight titles in the ICON and Elite XC promotions, all the while not pow-wowing with punches in training camp.

Lawler tells the story to Brendan Schaub on "The Fighter and the Kid" podcast:

You need that [sparring/early MMA experience] to a certain extent because you don't want someone going through this path in the game and get into a fight and be like, 'I don't like to be hit' or 'I don't enjoy this at all.' If you come in right away, and are put to the fire right away, you can decide right away if this is for you. I took like six years off from sparring, but at the time I was like, 'I know how to fight. I'll just watch all these guys. I'll break it down and learn mentally how to stay sharp,' and it worked pretty well for a while. This is when I was in Strikeforce, even before that, while I was in Elite XC and ICON. I wasn't sparring at all. When I was in Pride, I actually got hit and had vertigo and was just like, 'I don't need to spar for a bit.'

Makes you wonder if this has contributed to career longevity on part of MMA's latest Cinderella Man.

Former UFC heavyweight champions Frank Mir and Junior dos Santos have gone on the record to say overtraining in camp affected their fighting careers.

Pushing the pace has also solicited "stone-age gym" comments from UFC President Dana White, and with the amount of injuries crippling fight cards, it's nice to hear a refreshing take on the hardships fighters face.

With that being said, Lawler is still humanmaybe not so -- and is undoubtedly preparing now more than ever to retain his 170-pound belt against former interim welterweight titleholder Carlos Condit at the UFC 195 pay-per-view (PPV) on Jan. 2, 2016.

For more on the expanding UFC 195: "Lawler vs. Condit" fight card, click here.

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