Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Robbie Lawler and Neil Magny will go to war this weekend (Sat., Aug. 29, 2020) at UFC Vegas 8 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here’s a distinctly possible and quite depressing statement: the final moment of vintage Robbie Lawler violence may have already happened when he slammed Ben Askren on his skull. Since losing his title in 2016, Lawler has fought just four times, losing all but one of those bouts and really struggling with a hesitancy to pull the trigger.
“Ruthless” is 38 years old.
Meanwhile, Magny is in the midst of a minor career resurgence. He never hit a major rough patch of losses, just a single defeat and some time on the sidelines. However, Magny is now returning to his former schedule of fighting frequently, and he’s searching for his third win of 2020.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 28-14 (1)
Key Wins: Rory MacDonald (UFC 189, UFC 167), Johny Hendricks (UFC 181), Carlos Condit (UFC 195), Matt Brown (UFC on FOX 12)
Key Losses: Tyron Woodley (UFC 201), Colby Covington (UFC on ESPN 5), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 26), Johny Hendricks (UFC 171)
Keys to Victory: A fearsome puncher with rare defensive savvy in the pocket, Lawler has knocked out 20 of his past opponents. At his best, Lawler was also ripping power left kicks and stuffing takedowns with his powerful sprawl, but it’s hard to say where exactly Lawler is at right now.
Let’s cut to the chase: Lawler has to throw punches if he’s to win.
Lawler’s level of activity against Covington just isn’t going to cut it against good Welterweights. A fair amount of the credit should go to “Chaos” and the excellent pressure he applies, but it’s a longtime flaw of Lawler that he’s willing to shoulder-roll punches without throwing anything back.
Magny has a massive reach. He’d love nothing more than to throw jabs and 1-2s without ever bringing his head into Lawler’s range. It’s up to “Ruthless” to take the initiative and start using his head movement to slip forward and close distance, which would then allow him to fire his famously heavy hands.
Key Wins: Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Fight Night 78), Johny Hendricks (UFC 207), Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 85), Carlos Condit (UFC 219), Rocco Martin (UFC 250), Li Jingliang (UFC 248)
Key Losses: Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC Fight Night 140), Demian Maia (UFC 190), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 215), Lorenz Larkins (UFC 202)
Keys to Victory: Since his return, Magny has definitely shown some improvement with his hands, as he’s more able to sit down on his punches. Still, the heart of his game remains the same: long straight punches and excellent clinch work.
Magny should take some notes from the Covington fight, notably how “Chaos” set the tone immediately with constantly takedown attempts. There is no reason to allow a fresh Lawler to find his range and grow comfortable inside the Octagon — that’s how people die.
Instead, Magny should be backing Lawler up with punches only as long as is necessary for him to clinch. Taking Lawler down is difficult, but holding him along the fence and picking up points with knees? That’s a much easier goal, and it will ultimately have the same effect of slowing down the veteran’s output.
As the fight wears on, Magny should also stay active with his kicks. Lawler has never liked dealing with kickers, and there’s no reason for a rangy fighter like Magny not to use such a great weapon.
The stakes are high for both Welterweight veterans.
This is especially true for Lawler, who enters in a must-win position. A fourth consecutive loss surely removes “Ruthless” from the Welterweight rankings. Worse still, it likely sparks retirement talks. It’s all a situation Lawler would really like to avoid! Fortunately, Magny has again climbed his way into the 170-pound rankings. If Lawler can dispatch him, it goes a long way in silencing critics and confirming his position as a relevant Welterweight.
On the other hand, Magny is building momentum for another run. Lawler may not be at his peak any longer, but a win over the former champion to make it three straight would certainly help Magny move a notch up the ladder. In all likelihood, it sets him for a top 10 opponent next.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 8 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ 9 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 8, Robbie Lawler will return opposite Neil Magny in the co-main event. Which veteran will earn the victory?