#1 welterweight contender Robbie Lawler made a statement in his third round TKO victory over #5 ranked Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173. Lawler dominated the first two rounds and outclassed Ellenberger, also renowned for having great stand-up, ultimately finishing the fight in the third with a big combination. The win puts Lawler back in line for a rematch for the title after his war with Johny Hendricks for the strap at UFC 171, a fight where Lawler almost finished the now-champion.
Lawler put on another stand-up clinic and continued his resurgence since returning to the UFC. Leading up to re-signing with the UFC, ‘Ruthless’ lost five of his last eight (including three of his last four), but dropped back down to welterweight where he has looked like a shadow of his former self. Now improving with every performance, Lawler has gone 4-1 since retuning to the biggest MMA promotion in the world, and may have earned a rematch with Hendricks in the process.
With the entertainment of the first fight and Lawler’s great performance tonight, the sequel would be easy to market for a future pay-per-view card. However, with the likes of Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley and Hector Lombard vs. Dong Hyun Kim coming in the future, nothing is set in stone.
Here is how the fight went down:
I am so so pumped for this fight. Lawler is rightfully ranked #1 at welterweight, while Ellenberger is #5. While Lawler is coming off a Fight of the Year candidate, Ellenberger is coming off a stinker, but this fight will be about who is more motivated by their last loss. Both have big power and are more than capable of landing a fight ending blow at any point.
Round 1 – Ellenberger takes the centre. Both using a lot of movement and faints, this is expected. Head kick from Lawler partially blocked, and another big one! That one landed. Big body kick, man that was hard. So technically sound. Another left head kick. Lawler fakes it there. Jab by Lawler. Little in terms of offence from Ellenberger so far. Left counter from Lawler, then a nice uppercut. Nice combination by Lawler. He’s really looking smooth and technical here. Another left high kick, his fourth of the fight. Ellenberger tries for a right but Lawler slides away. Big combination attempted by Lawler with the head kick at the end of it. They’re in the clinch, knee to the body from Lawler. Jab to the body by Ellenberger. Uppercut attempted but Lawler gets out of the way. ‘Ruthless’ is really having his way here and landing the significant blows so far. Ellenberger has landed barely anything in this round and there’s only a minute remaining. Another left high kick from Lawler. Body attack by Lawler. Body kick. He’s landing almost everything. Left tags Ellenberger. Nice jab by Ellenberger there, and another. He needs more of that. Big swing by Ellenberger misses, but a nice body shot there. Nice combination by Ellenberger. They exchange at the end, and Lawler lands another head kick. Ellenberger very hesitant in that round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Lawler.
Round 2 – Ellenberger with a right at the start of the round. Lawler lands a 1-2 then a head kick, and he’s pushing forward now. Lovely combination by Lawler and a knee to the body. Another nice combination as Ellenberger gets the clinch, knee to the body from Lawler. And a jab. He’s so technical. Lawler’s backing him up so far and having his way with him, Ellenberger just looks out of his depth. Ellenberger shoots in and gets the back in the clinch, landing some knees from this position. Right head kick from Ellenberger as they separate but blocked. Juggernaut with a left but he gets tagged on the counter. Straight left by Lawler, and a right hand counter. Big combination, Ellenberger may be hurt. He’s circling away. Lawler with some nice combinations, big left. Robbie is just all over him. Ellenberger’s attacks don’t have the same power we’re used to. He gets a takedown from the clinch and has the back, Lawler laughing in that position. He escapes and hits him with a beautiful knee to the body that drops Ellenberger, now hitting him with shots on the ground. Lawler spins to the back and tries to lands some combinations. Lawler is looking great here. Big right by Ellenberger as he gets up. Jab by Robbie. Takedown from Ellenberger, Lawler smiles again. I hope the judges don’t think this wins him the round as Lawler is the one who has done the damage. He gets straight back up and lands a couple of knees. Mouse under the eye of Lawler. A 1-2 from Robbie, who then gets the clinch against the cage. Short elbow by Ellenberger.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Lawler (20-18 Lawler).
Round 3 – This really isn’t the same Jake Ellenberger that used to scare the s–t out of me when I saw him fight. He looks hesitant and too defensive. He’s lost the first two and if this continues the way it does, he’ll be out of the title picture for good I imagine. Big knee to the body from Lawler. Ellenberger tags him with a couple of rights, he’s hurting him now! That’s more like it. Lawler just smiles and fires back. A couple of knees to Ellenberger now. Big right from Lawler. He thrives off this sort of battle. Jab from Lawler. Ellenberger’s corner willing him on. Rogan believes Ellenberger’s right hand is injured. Lawler pushing forward once again, landing some lovely technical combinations before a knee in the clinch. Ellenberger backing up again. He had a great little flurry at the start of this round, but he’s now tentative once again. Kick from Ellenberger to the body, but Lawler just eats it and pushes on. Nice couple of rights by Ellenberger but nothing significant. Big left by Lawler, and a 1-2, he’s landing so often. Another beautiful right jab. That buckled his head. Big knee, and he’s hurt. Huge combination and Lawler has finished the fight! Robbie Lawler is incredible, man.
Result: Lawler via TKO (punches) at 3:06 in third round.
Robbie Lawler just outclassed the #5 in the world, simply outclassed him. Dominated all three rounds, got a finish in the third and was hardly fazed by anything. Sure, Ellenberger looked off, but that’s because Lawler looked so on. 4-1 since returning to the UFC and Lawler needs a title shot next.
Here are the results for the full card so far:
– Robbie Lawler def. Jake Ellenberger via TKO (punches) at 3:06 in third round.
– Takeya Mizugaki def. Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2).
– James Krause def. Jamie Varner via TKO (retirement) at 5:00 in first round.
– Michael Chiesa def. Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision (30-26 x2, 30-27).
– Tony Ferguson def. Katsunori Kikuno via knockout (punch) at 4:06 in first round.
– Chris Holdsworth def. Chico Camus via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
– Mitch Clarke def. Al Iaquinta via submission (d’arce choke) at 0:57 in second round.
– Vinc Pichel def. Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28).
– Sam Sicilia def. Aaron Phillips via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27).
– Li Jingliang def. David Michaud via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
Check out our play-by-play for the full event here.