Robbie LawlerThe main event of UFC 195 is a fantastic contest between reigning UFC Welterweight Champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit. Lawler was last seen in July when he defeated Rory MacDonald by technical knockout in one of the greatest fights in UFC history. Condit, meanwhile, earned a shot at the welterweight title by defeating Thiago Alves by technical knockout this past May.   Robbie Lawler (26-10 (1 NC) MMA, 11-4 UFC, -115 favorite) The feel good story that is Robbie Lawler continued in a big way in 2015, as Lawler defended his welterweight title for the first time at UFC 189 in July. “Ruthless” stopped number one contender Rory MacDonald with a vicious series of punches in the fifth and final round. His performance was especially impressive because Lawler was down on the judge’s scorecards and needed a finish in the final frame in order to retain his title. There are not many fighters that have been able to turn their career around like he has. Since losing to Lorenz Larkin in his final fight with Strikeforce in 2012, Lawler has compiled a 7-1 record in the UFC. The former Iowa native own notable wins over MacDonald (twice), Johny Hendricks, Matt Brown, Josh Koscheck, and Frank Trigg. The 33-year old is one of the best strikers in the UFC. While he has been known as a knockout artist for quite some time, he has really matured and rounded out his game in recent years. His recent success started shortly after he started training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Fighting out of a southpaw stance, Lawler is an effective striker both on the counter and moving forward. He possesses brutal knockout power in every limb, though he does most of his damage with his hands and rear-leg kick. Lawler has a great 1-2 combination, which he often follows up with either a right hook or rear-leg kick to his opponent’s body or head. His straight left hand and right hook are his best punches and responsible for many knockouts. Lawler is very hard to defeat when he finds his rhythm inside the Octagon. Once he finds a rhythm, he likes to move forward and initiate exchanges inside the pocket, where he is able to land his heavy punches. However, Lawler sometimes goes into a funk where he throws little volume and gives rounds away. These rounds are few and far between, but they do happen occasionally. Defensively, Lawler does not possess great head movement and is therefore quite hittable. Further, he took an obscene amount of damage in his last fight, which was six months ago. Lawler was a star wrestler in high school, but you rarely see him go for any takedowns. Instead, he focuses on stopping his opponent’s takedowns and keeping the fight on the feet, where he usually has the advantage. Submission wrestling is not his strong suit, though he has improved his submission defense in recent years. Lawler now possesses great takedown defense, including a wicked sprawl. His hips and balance are exceptional. Conditioning is another area where Lawler has improved in recent years. Most of his fights over the last two years have been five round affairs, and he has had no issues when he has had to go the distance.   Carlos Condit (30-8 MMA, 7-4 UFC, -105 underdog) Condit returned to the Octagon in May after a 14 month injury layoff. “The Natural Born Killer” did not take long to find his groove, as he stopped veteran Thiago Alves after two rounds. Condit’s striking, tenacity, and killer instinct were quite evident in that contest. He had lost three out of his last four fights prior to his win over Alves, including a title unification bout against Georges St. Pierre in November of 2012. The former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion holds notable wins over Nick Diaz, Rory MacDonald, Martin Kampmann, Dong Hyun Kim, and Jake Ellenberger. The 31-year old is one of the most dangerous and exciting welterweights in the world. His well-rounded attack is difficult for opponents to deal with, as he is dangerous from almost every position. Condit can strike out of either stance, but he mainly uses orthodox. From there he fires combinations at will, especially his 1-2, which he likes to follow up with a left hook or kick. Standing elbows, flying knees, spinning attacks, and kicks to all levels are techniques that Condit often employs. Tenacity and aggressiveness are good qualities for a fighter to have, though those qualities tend to get Condit in trouble at times. For example, he tends to overcommit on strikes, especially his kicks and flying knees. That leaves him wide open to either be hit or taken down. Further, Condit likes to kick while running forward, which often results in his opponent stepping forward and blasting him with hard counters. Kicking into his opponent negates the reach advantage that he often enjoys. For those reasons Condit is quite hittable, especially against hard counter punchers. The biggest problem for Condit has been his shaky takedown defense. His wrestling or lack thereof, is the main reason he lost to both Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks. However, Condit does feature a strong submission attack and guard game. He chains submission attempts together seamlessly and also has very sneaky sweeps from his back. Condit’s guard game is important because of how often he ends up on his back. His guard game allows him to attempt multiple submissions, hit sweeps, or scramble back to his feet. Excellent conditioning is another hallmark of Condit’s game.   Thoughts Many fans love the matchmaking here and have looked past whether Condit really deserved this fight. Both fighters are very exciting to watch and they match up on paper quite well. Lawler, the reigning welterweight champion, is the more powerful striker of the two. He will look to find a rhythm and blast Condit with hard shots in the pocket. Condit, meanwhile, has a more well-rounded attack. He utilizes more kicks and will hold a height and reach advantage. Condit may benefit from staying on the outside and utilizing his kicking game and long punches. If he overcommits on his strikes like he has in the past he may find himself in serious trouble in this fight. The amount of damage Lawler sustained in his last fight is a little concerning. He is now 34 years old and has been in several wars. Condit, meanwhile, possesses a great chin and has never been knocked out. It seems like something has to give here, but I am not sure what that will be. I think this is going to be a great fight and I could make a case for either fighter to win. However, I will go with Lawler to retain his belt in a back and forth, exciting fight. In the end I like Lawler’s power, speed, and explosiveness a little more than I like Condit’s more varied attack.   The Prediction: Robbie Lawler defeats Carlos Condit by split decision


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