Due to a hiccup in an extremely busy week, I am going to call a spade a spade and assume everyone agrees Cyborg wins the Featherweight Title. Instead of that analysis, the highly anticipated matchup between Welterweight’s Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone takes the spotlight today.
Monday: Light Heavyweight – #3 Jimi Manuwa vs. #5 Volkan Oezdemir
Tuesday: Wednesday: Welterweight – #3 Robbie Lawler vs. #7 Donald Cerrone Wednesday: Women’s Featherweight – Cristiane Justino vs. Tonya Evinger
Thursday: Welterweight Championship – C Tyron Woodley vs. #1 Demian Maia
Friday: Light Heavyweight Championship – C Daniel Cormier vs. #1 Jon Jones
Welterweight: Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone
Tale of the Tape:
Robbie Lawler’s Strengths:
The Ex UFC Welterweight Champion is as tough as they come, if you need an example look no further then his UFC 189 defense against Rory MacDonald. In addition to this toughness, Lawler is a very good striker who holds an advantage standing in most of his match-ups. His striking often lands and when it does it lands with power. In his impressive career 20 of 27 victories have come by way of KO/TKO. Robbie Lawler throws strikes with very bad intentions.
Donald Cerrone’s Strengths:
Simply put, Donald Cerrone is one badass dude. Cowboy is a fan favorite for many reasons, most specifically because he is willing to fight anyone at anytime (even civilians messing with his boat). Recently, Cowboy’s striking has come into the spotlight with potentially the most beautiful combo in MMA history against Rick Story.
His striking is technically sound but his biggest strength is in his ground game. Something that is often overlooked is the fact Cerrone has 16 of his 32 career wins coming by way of submission. He is as well rounded as they come and uses his crisp striking to force opponents to a death by BJJ.
Robbie Lawler’s Weaknesses:
Toughness does not come without repercussions, and at 35 years of age the wars may be beginning to take a toll. Medical advances allow many parts of the human body to be fixed, but there is still not cure for the damage a fighter’s chin takes over time. During Lawlers unpredictable rise to Welterweight supremacy he made major changes in his training. One of these being to preserve his chin. Lawler essentially eliminated all hard sparring from his training. This makes me question his own mentality towards his aging and often tested durability. Add a layoff of over a year since his KO loss to Tyron Woodley with no heavy sparring to the equation and ring rust is a serious concern in this fight.
Donald Cerrone’s Weaknesses:
Much like Lawler, Cerrone’s weaknesses are a result of the things that make him so appealing to fans. In this case, it’s his street fighter mentality. Donald Cerrone is coached by one of the most meticulous personalities in all of MMA, Greg Jackson, but he is far from a Jackson fighter. Cowboy has went on record numerous occasions stating that he watches no film at all to study his opponents. Lack of mental preparation is something that is ill advised leading up to fights with high level opponents. He could likely have fewer losses on his record had he only spent some time studying.
This fight definitely has a bit of unpredictability due to the mindset both fighter bring into the Octagon. It is very hard to argue either guy will come into the cage looking to do anything other than brawl. Something I feel is being overlooked due to Lawler’s bloody battle with Rory MacDonald is that some wins during the streak were very close. Split decisions against Hendricks and Condit as well as an inability to finish Matt Brown fade into the background. Still, if it was 2014-2015 I would argue Lawler would hold too much power for Cowboy. Today, I think these two are fairly evenly matched on the feet, Lawler holding a slight advantage in power and Cowboy having speed and technique. I believe a point in the fight will come where it hits the ground and this will be Lawler’s achilles heel. With 5 of 11 career losses via submission, I am not confident Lawler can fight off Cowboy’s slick ground game. I envision the first two rounds being the extremely exciting fight we all are hoping for, with Cerrone taking a tired Lawler to the ground and finishing sometime in the third. Cerrone by submission and if I am going to call my shot, money’s on an RNC.