Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit.
Robbie Lawler doesn’t talk much. He isn’t a movie star. So because he’s nowhere near as attention-grabbing as either UFC 193 headliner Ronda Rousey or UFC 194 marquee man Conor McGregor, it would be easy to overlook the UFC welterweight champion.
But don’t. Not if you like fighting.
When Lawler defends his 170-pound belt against Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 195 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET, PPV), it will be a matchup of two of the more aggressive, ill-intentioned fighters in the world. Twenty of the champ’s 26 professional wins have come by knockout. The challenger has finished 28 of his 30 fights.
Lawler (26-10, 1 NC) captured the UFC belt a year ago to cap an improbable, meteoric run in his second go-round with the promotion. After winning four of his first five fights in the UFC over a decade ago and then departing following a pair of losses, Lawler bounced among several smaller promotions before settling in with Strikeforce. He looked like a fading fighter, losing three of his last four prior to the promotion folding.
The UFC inherited his contract—and had no idea what it was getting. Lawler, 33, has won all but one of his eight fights, with the lone loss being in a March 2014 title bout with Johny Hendricks. But “Ruthless Robbie” got a second chance at Hendricks last December and made the most of it, winning the belt via a split decision. But he truly cemented his status as a champion in his first title defense, a brutal fifth-round knockout of Rory MacDonald in July that is a shoo-in for Fight of the Year, if not Fight of the Century.
The 31-year-old Condit (30–8) has enjoyed championship status as well. He is a former UFC interim belt holder and a one-time WEC champ. He has been a scarce presence at the top of the game of late, however. Since late 2012, he’s lost three of his five fights, and spent over a year on the shelf healing a knee injury. The first two losses were to champions, Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, and the third came in a bout with Tyron Woodley in which Condit tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee.
“The Natural Born Killer” reasserted himself as a contender in his return in May, beating up Thiago Alves on the way to a second-round doctor’s stoppage. After dropping out of the SI.com welterweight rankings because of inactivity, Condit is back in at No. 7. Lawler tops that list at No. 5 in the pound-for-pound rankings.
In addition to the pay-per-view telecast of Saturday night’s five-fight main card, four prelims will be shown on Fox Sports 1, starting at 8 p.m. ET, and the event’s first three bouts will be available on the UFC Fight Pass online service at 7.
Lawler vs. Condit was originally scheduled to be the main event at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, for last month’s UFC 193. But a Lawler thumb injury caused the fight to be postponed, and instead it was Holly Holm’s stunning upset of Ronda Rousey that played out before a UFC-record crowd of 56,214.
Now this fight is finally happening, after it seemed as though Lawler and Condit might end up as top-level ships passing in the night. Though both became champions in 2007—Condit in the WEC, Lawler in EliteXC—they were headed in different directions.
Lawler defended his belt twice before the promotion disbanded, and once he moved on to Strikeforce, he found it to be tough sledding. He lost five times before moving on to the UFC in 2013.
During that same spell, Condit was soaring. He defended his WEC belt three times before the promotion folded in 2008, and after losing his UFC debut, he won his next five bouts, culminating in an interim title win over Nick Diaz in 2012.
Soon after, their fortunes were reversed. Condit tried to trade in his interim belt for the real thing but lost to St-Pierre, leading to a dry spell. Meanwhile, Lawler was soaring on his way to the title.
Last Five Fights
|7/11/15 - Rory MacDonald - W TKO 5||5/30/15 - Thiago Alves - W TKO 2|
|12/6/14 - Johny Hendricks - W SD 5||3/15/14 - Tyron Woodley - L TKO 2|
|7/26/14 - Matt Brown - W UD 5||8/28/13 - Martin Kampmann - W TKO 4|
|5/24/14 - Jake Ellenberger - W TKO 3||3/16/13 - Johny Hendricks - L UD 3|
|3/15/14 - Johny Hendricks - L UD 5||11/17/12 - Georges St-Pierre - L 5|
Tale of the Tape
|March 20, 1982||BIRTH DATE||April 26, 1984|
|San Diego, Calif.||BIRTHPLACE||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|Coconut Creek, Fla.||RESIDENCE||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|26-10 (1 NC)||RECORD||30-8|
*Official weights announced at the weigh-in (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
Other Numbers to Count On
723: Total significant strikes landed in his UFC career by Robbie Lawler, sixth-best among all welterweights in the promotion’s history, according to FightMetric statistics.
1,172: Total strikes landed in his UFC/WEC career by Carlos Condit, placing him seventh among welterweights in UFC history.
39: Percentage of opponent takedown tries successfully defended by Condit. His wrestling troubles have been his undoing in some big fights. (Lawler defends takedowns at a 67% rate.)
A ruthless return to the UFC by Robbie Lawler:
An explosive performance by Carlos Condit:
One of the beauties of this matchup revolves around what Condit doesn’t do very well and Lawler does pretty well but chooses not to.
Condit’s downfall in two of his high-profile losses was his wrestling. He was unable to keep St-Pierre and Hendricks from taking him to the mat and controlling him there. This neutralized his striking game, which stunningly had floored GSP and nearly made Condit the champion.
Lawler is a solid wrestler, dating back to his days as an all-state high school competitor in Iowa and later his training under Pat Miletich in a gym with stout grapplers such as Matt Hughes. But “Ruthless Robbie” tends to utilize his wrestling mainly defensively, in order to keep his fights standing.
That’s fine with Condit. It’s fine with Lawler. And it’ll be fine with those fans who get to watch two hard-hitting standup fighters go at each other on Saturday night.
Lawler is a narrow favorite, with a money line ranging from -115 (bet $115 to win $100) to -135 (bet $135 to win $100) at various sportsbooks. The line on Condit ranges from -105 (bet $105 to win $100) to +105 (bet $100 to win $105).
There are a lot of X-factors here. How much did the violent date with Rory MacDonald back in July take out of Lawler? How will Condit’s relative inactivity—two rounds of fighting in the last 21 months—affect his timing and durability? Each of these men has the quick-strike ability to take out the other, but both are durable and tough enough to go the distance. The thinking here is they’re headed for a five-rounder, with the no-retreat champ continuing his withering assault on the division. Lawler by decision.
“Robbie and I are both strikers. We both go for broke, look to finish competitors. That’s going to make for a fight that I’m hoping is legendary. That’s the kind of fight I want to be in. I want to be in fights that people will remember for the rest of their lives.” —Condit, speaking to the Albuquerque Journal this Fall
The Rest of the Card
Stipe Miocic vs. Andrei Arlovski, heavyweight; Kelvin Gastelum vs. Kyle Noke, welterweight; Albert Tumenov vs. Lorenz Larkin, welterweight; Diego Brandao vs. Brian Ortega, featherweight.
Preliminary card (8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1): Michael McDonald vs. Masanori Kanehara, bantamweight; Justine Kish vs. Nina Ansaroff, strawweight; Drew Dober vs. Scott Holtzman, lightweight; Abel Trujillo vs. Tony Sims, lightweight.
Online prelims (6:30 p.m., UFC Fight Pass): Dustin Poirier vs. Joseph Duffy, lightweight; Joe Soto vs. Michinori Tanaka, bantamweight; Edgar Garcia vs. Sheldon Westcott, welterweight.
Mike Goldberg will handle blow-by-blow and Joe Rogan analysis for the main-card telecast on pay-per-view as well as prelims on Fox Sports 1 and the UFC Fight Pass. There will be an hour-long post-fight show on Fox Sports 1, starting at 1 a.m. ET.