Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight wrestlers Corey Anderson and Tom Lawlor went to war last night (March 5, 2016) at UFC 196 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
One of the division's better prospects, Anderson entered last night's bout having won four of his last five. At just 26 years old, Anderson was looking to demonstrate that he's already one of the top fighters in the world.
Meanwhile, Lawlor needed a major comeback to score his sole victory since returning to Light Heavyweight. Last night, Lawlor was simply trying to prove that he belongs at 205 lbs.
While he did accomplish that goal, Lawlor failed to extend his win streak.
Lawlor started quickly, rocking his opponent with a series of clinch strikes. Things looked a bit dire to start for Anderson, but he recovered well and scored with enough of his own shots to earn his opponent's respect.
As the pace slowed down, Anderson's reach advantage became more apparent. Lawler was the aggressor and landed some nice shots, but Anderson was landing with a higher accuracy and did a nice job with his kicks as well.
All in all, it was a very close round.
Once more, Lawlor started the round with some strong blows. Anderson wasn't rocked by those clean blows, and he stayed in the pocket and landed his own strikes in return.
On the whole, the exchanges and the round were quite close. Lawlor pushed forward and generally threw the harder shots, but Anderson definitely held his own and threw a few more strikes.
Basically, it was anyone's fight in the third round.
After a minute or so of light exchanges, Anderson powered through a double leg takedown into side control. Lawlor worked his way back into half guard, but Anderson did well with elbows from that position as well.
With a minute remaining, the fight was stood back up. Despite needing to do something big to win back the round, Lawlor threw very few strikes and allowed Anderson to dictate the pace until the final bell.
After 15 close minutes of combat, the judges unanimously awarded the decision victory to Corey Anderson.
Despite the scorecards, this was a very close fight, and a great one for Anderson's development. Lawlor has grown to be a solid veteran with well-rounded skills, which makes him an excellent test for young prospects like Anderson.
It wasn't easy nor pretty, but the fact that Anderson overcame some adversity to pull out the victory is a great sign for his future.
In a division full of men that gas quickly, Anderson's cardio is a great weapon. His output remained consistent throughout the fight, and his third round was easily his best. That conditioning edge will win Anderson fights now, which should help him develop even further.
On the other hand, Lawlor came up short but proved a lot of things. Prior to his come-from-behind knockout punch opposite Villante, Lawlor was getting his ass kicked. A lot of people viewed that win as something of a fluke, but Lawlor showed that he's a legitimate and tough Light Heavyweight.
Frankly, the division needs men like him.
On the whole, Lawlor played the role of head hunter against a fighter with a higher work rate. In such situations, the head hunter rarely wins the decision. He has to finish, and Lawlor failed to make that happen. There's not much to breakdown there; it's just an unfortunate reality for men chasing the knockout.
Following this loss, I'd like to see Lawlor face off with Jan Blachowicz. He's another veteran of the division who recently came up short opposite Anderson, and it would be interesting to see if Lawlor's wrestling edge will carry over from Middleweight as well.
Last night, Corey Anderson edged past Tom Lawlor in a close scrap. Is Anderson a future title contender?
For complete UFC 196 "McGregor vs Diaz" results and play-by-play, click HERE!