SEATTLE – It’s hard to get UFC welterweight Robbie Lawler to express much interest or emotion about anything, even when it comes to fighting.
He won’t even brag about a recent TKO victory over Josh Koscheck, which followed a 2-4 skid and marked Lawler’s first UFC victory since 2004.
But after some further thought, he finally perked up.
“It was big for everyone else, but I knew what I could do,” he said of the “Knockout of the Night” performance at UFC 157. “But I guess it’s nice that everyone else kind of knows what I’m capable of. Maybe it put a little fear in some opponents. But I’m not too worried about that. Just fulfilling my dreams and fighting to the best of my ability is what I want to do, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Lawler (20-9 MMA, 5-3 UFC) continues that quest on Saturday in a UFC on FOX 8 main-card bout at Seattle’s KeyArena, where he meets Bobby Voelker (24-9 MMA, 0-1 UFC), a late replacement for Siyar Bahadurzada (21-5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), himself a replacement for Tarec Saffiedine (14-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Voelker took the fight on two weeks’ notice, but Lawler said it made little impact on his preparations.
“When you’re getting ready for a fight, you just try to be ready for anything,” he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I wasn’t necessarily watching tapes on Siyar yet, so it wasn’t a big deal to me.”
However, he knows the scenario can provide a bit of a wild card come fight night. When a fighter takes a bout on short notice, losses seem to be more easily forgiven by UFC brass. And though Voelker, a fellow Strikeforce vet, suffered a decision loss to Patrick Cote in his UFC debut earlier this year, Lawler knows his opponent is likely to go for broke in his sophomore effort.
“He has nothing to lose,” Lawler said. “He’s tough. He believes in himself. Anyone who comes in on two weeks’ notice believes he can get the job done obviously.”
As with the Koscheck fight, Lawler is spending much of his training camp in Florida with the famed American Top Team. Unlike past gyms, he’s not a primary leader. He takes his orders from others, and he said he actually enjoys “not being the boss” of everyone else.
However, it also means extended time away from his family, who’s located in Illinois. Lawler would spend a few weeks in Florida and then return home for a week ahead of Saturday’s event. It was tough on the 31-year-old vet and his family, but he said it’s also proof that he still has a passion for fighting.
“It’s hard, but you have to do what you have to do,” said Lawler, who missed his son’s birthday because he was in Florida. “Hopefully in the end [the sacrifices] pay off for me. … But yeah, I wouldn’t be doing it if I still didn’t have a passion for it.”
Lawler, though, refuses to say where a win over Voelker would put him in the title picture, and with more than 12 grueling years in the sport, he won’t say how much longer he plans to compete. However, he said he felt reenergized after his move from Strikeforce, where he fought infrequently and often with little notice, to the UFC, where he was one of the organization’s brightest prospects a decade ago.
Believe it or not, the man of few words enjoys the extra attention and extra opportunities the UFC affords him. But to stay here – and to enter serious title contention – he said he just needs to worry about one thing on Saturday night.
“I just need to get past this guy and do what I do, and everything else will take care of itself,” he said.
For the latest on UFC on FOX 8, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.