Former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler will finish his MMA career on the “Prelims” portion of the upcoming UFC 290 pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, locked and loaded for Sat., July 8, 2023 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. After that, “Ruthless” will enjoy his first (but perhaps not last) spot in the promotion’s hall of fame.
So where does Lawler (29-16, 1 NC) rank in the pantheon of welterweight greats?
“Well, here’s the problem: There weren’t many welterweight champions,” former two-division champion and current UFC analyst Daniel Cormier said on “DC & RC” (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “It’s been a division that has had so many long-reigning champions that there aren’t many welterweight champions. I got Georges St-Pierre as the head; he’s the George Washington. Then I have Matt Hughes, Kamaru Usman, and I have Tyron Woodley.”
“And I get it,” Cormier added. “(Woodley) and Robbie would seem to have very similar resumes, but you’ve got to remember when Tyron was the champion, the way he beat Robbie to become the champion, the way he beat Darren Till, the way he defended that belt on so many occasions when he was legitimately one of the harder champions to work with, so he got no favors.”
Lawler, now 41, captured the crown by defeating Johny Hendricks in the UFC 181 headliner back in late 2014, then notched consecutive title defenses against Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit before dropping the strap to Woodley at UFC 201.
Woodley (19-7-1) defended against Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia, and Darren Till before getting outclassed by Kamaru Usman at UFC 235. With both resumes balancing out, you can argue in favor of “The Chosen One” for stopping “Ruthless” in summer 2016.
“Tyron Woodley was actually fighting always the very best guys, and he complained about it openly how the UFC didn’t always treat him fairly,” Cormier said. “So, he was doing that and defending that belt in circumstances that weren’t ideal. Think about all those fights he had with ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. He was fighting ‘Wonderboy’ when ‘Wonderboy’ was like the biggest enigma that we had ever seen inside of the Octagon.”
Woodley fought Thompson to a draw in late 2016, then captured a majority decision victory over “Wonderboy” at UFC 209 the following March.
“For that, I have to put Tyron Woodley,” Cormier continued. “I love Robbie Lawler against Carlos Condit. That was a great fight, but it was very, very competitive. I love Robbie Lawler against Rory, but it was very, very competitive. For me, Robbie Lawler’s story is the guy that came from Strikeforce, he was a bit middle of the road, and then he went to the top and became the champion. But even then, I don’t know if I’d put him in the top four welterweights of all time.”
Woodley, 41, parted ways with UFC after losing four straight fights.