The Quiet Achiever
© Marc Wickert
All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa LLC
Photography by Joshua Hedges
MMA middleweight Robbie Lawler is a man of few words, preferring to let his fists do the talking. And as shown in UFC’s Ultimate Knockouts 2 & 3, his fists talk BIG.
Born in San Diego, California, Robbie now fights out of Davenport, Iowa, representing Team Miletich. "I always enjoyed fighting and watching martial arts movies. My dad was big into martial arts, and he got me started. When I was about 10, my dad wanted to go to chiropractic school, so we left California and moved to Iowa where he studied," says Lawler.
Whilst attending school at Bettendorf, Robbie first crossed paths with Pat Miletich. "Pat came to train at our high school for a couple of fights and he grabbed up some of us. It just kinda took off from there. I already knew how to fight really well, and he had classes: like basic kickboxing and basic Jiu Jitsu. So I started going to those when I was about 17. I just did a little here and there. And when I turned 18 and was out of school, I just picked it up and started training with all the fighters."
Today, at 23 years of age, Robbie is an established Mixed Martial Artist with an MMA record of 9-3-0. He spends most of his training time with Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver and Spence Fischer. Lawler regards Miletich, Hughes, Pulver and Jeremy Horn as his main inspirations, but says he doesn’t get to train with Jeremy too often now that Horn has relocated to Salt Lake City.
Another fighter who has been an inspiration to Robbie is boxer Mike Tyson, whose raw knockout power can be seen in Lawler’s style of fighting. It’s this ferocious strike ability that has earned Robbie places on UFC’s DVDs Ultimate Knockouts 2 and 3. In Ultimate KOs 3, Tiki Ghosn caught Lawler with some solid leg shots and moved in on Robbie to capitalize. But it appeared Tiki underestimated the resilience of Lawler.
"I think he was doing what he expected to do: to out-strike me, but he didn’t know the power I have. And all I needed was one shot." That one big looping right was all it took to end the night for Tiki. Robbie knocked out Tiki at just 1.29 into the first round.
Lawler’s earlier Octagon debut earned him quite a reputation when he defeated Aaron Riley by unanimous decision at UFC 37 (May 10, 2002). This match has gone done as being one of the greatest bouts in UFC history.
On Ultimate KOs 2, southpaw Lawler knocked out Steve Berger 30 seconds into round two. Robbie came out for the round determined to dispatch his opponent ASAP. After catching Berger with a solid right that sent him to the canvas, Lawler unloaded a volley of fists illustrating how he earned the name Robbie "Ruthless" Lawler.
For UFC 51 Super Saturday, Lawler was to be matched against another big hitter: New York Bad Ass Phil Baroni, but then Pete Sell replaced Robbie who had to pull out after injuring his left elbow in training.
Lawler then blasted back onto the MMA scene
with a convincing victory at Super Brawl on July 23, 2005.
Robbie talked to knucklepit.com straight after this bout in Hawaii.
Robbie, how are you going?
"I’m a little sore now, but it’s alright."
How did your fight go?
"I won. I knocked Nico Vitale out in the second round. It was a good fight. I started it with a knee off his head, then I threw a right hook, a right uppercut and a left. He went down."
Was there any stage during the fight where you were in trouble, or did you have it pretty well under control the whole time?
"Well I knew what I was doing out there. I’m not going to say that I wasn’t in trouble at any point in time, but I felt good the whole time and I knew that I was going to overcome anything that came out."
What’s next for you? Will you be back at UFC?
"I don’t know yet. I’m just going to wait my options and have fun tomorrow in Hawaii."
Robbie, how do you develop such big punching power?
"Well, you do it through lifting weights and sprints…and working on your punching power on the heavy bag…just working on throwing them hard and fast. And they start developing."
Do you do deadlifts for your back?
"A lot of bench press, tricep extensions - close grip…And if you can throw the medicine ball it helps your punching power a lot…working on your lats, doing pull-ups. Just having strong core muscles helps your punching power."
Robbie, is there anything you’d like to add?
"I’m just happy to have the victory, and I’m going to have fun now."
What will you be drinking?
"Red Bull probably."
"Tap Out. But if anybody else is interested in sponsoring me…"