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Robbie Lawler has experienced the highs and lows of his profession more than most – the exhilarating victories, the crushing defeats and everything in between.
But nothing in his MMA career matched the night Lawler’s hand was raised in triumph and he became the UFC welterweight champion after 13 years in the sport.
Lawler’s split decision win over Johny Hendricks, who had beaten him at UFC 171 to win the title vacated by Georges St-Pierre, finally took Lawler to the top in a career that has been occasionally bumpy.
Lawler, who defeated Hendricks in their rematch at UFC 181 in December 2014, is one of the most vicious punchers in MMA, with 19 of his 25 wins coming via knockouts. But he also has 10 losses, the most by any champion in UFC history – proof, if nothing else, that his resilience has sustained him through the lows.
Lawler was just 20 years old when he made his UFC debut at UFC 37, winning a unanimous decision over Aaron Riley. He went on to win three of his next four, losing only to Pete Spratt at UFC 42 when he suffered a hip injury and was submitted.
Lawler’s career was momentarily derailed in 2004 when he was knocked out by Nick Diaz, the only KO loss of his career. After losing by submission to Evan Tanner in his next bout, Lawler subsequently fought for PRIDE, EliteXC and Strikeforce over a seven-year period and held the Elite XC middleweight title in 2007 and 2008.