Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald just put on one of the best title fights we’ve seen in quite some time at UFC 189, and both men looked to have gained the ascendancy at times in this bloody battle, but in the end if was the champion who prevailed with a fifth round TKO finish.

Round One:

Lawler with a couple of punches over the top to start. MacDonald with a nice right hand. MacDonald keeping distance with an oustretched hand. Lawler tries a kick, but it comes up short.

MacDonald with a front kick to the midsection of the champion. Leg kick for Lawler and in return from MacDonald. Circling each other now looking for openings. Kick from MacDonald that may have strayed a little low, but Lawler says he’s ok as the ref comes in.

MacDonald with a head kick attempt, but stops just short of landing. MacDonald pumping out his jab to keep Lawler at range. Right hand lands for MacDonald. Lawler looking for a way to get into that closer range that he likes to work at.

Nice lengthy punches from MacDonald and a kick. MacDonald in on a takedown attempt – it’s good, but Lawler still manages to stuff it very nicely and lands a knee in there for good measure before they separate.

Body punch from Lawler. Right hand for MacDonald. Right hand for Lawler and MacDonald tries to counter with a two-piece combo. Couple of kicks to the body from MacDonald. Two punches land for Lawler as the round comes to a close.

Round Two:

Front kick to the stomach again from MacDonald. Right hand gets through for Lawler. And again. leg kick for MacDonald. Jab effective for Lawler so far this round. Now it’s MacDonald who lands the jab. And another.

Left hand from Lawler and a good counter combo from MacDonald. Right hand for MacDonald and a front kick to the body.

MacDonald with a high kick that’s blocked and tries to follow up with punches. He lands a right hand. This range is working better for MacDonald than Lawler at this stage of the fight.

Body punch for MacDonald. Lawler steps in and lands a one-two. Macdonald responding, but again Lawler lands another 1-2 combo and MacDonald has blood on his face.

Lawler loosening up now, looking lighter on his feet and dances in and out looking to land similar one-two’s which are paying dividends for him.

MacDonald lands a punch, Lawler responds in kind and an elbow for MacDonald. Lots of blood from that cut to the nose of MacDonald.

Round Three:

still a little blood trickling from the bridge of MacDonald’s nose as they start the third round. MacDonald with that front kick again.

Feeling each other out again here as they circle around in the center of the Octagon. Lawler unleashing with a series of punches.

Left hand lands for MacDonald. Kick to the body from Lawler and a jab. Looks for the jab again and MacDonald presses in for the takedown. Excellent takedown defense from Lawler.

They get back upright and MacDonald’s face is a mask of blood. A bit of a lull in the action. MacDonald with a couple of nice punches now. He goes upstairs with a kick, but it’s blocked. Right hook for Lawler.

Jab for Lawler. Lands it again. Now a one-two. Good right hand for MacDonald and another. MacDonald with a head kick and Lawler is suddenly in real danger, looking badly wobbled. MacDonald following up with serious offense and Lawler is still dazed but trying to fire back. More strikes including a big knee from MacDOnald, but Lawler survives to the end of the round.

Round Four:

MacDOnald with a head kick again. Going to the body too and backs the champion up against the cage and unleashes a barrage of punches looking for the punches. Lawler looks hurt, but says he’s fine and keeps fighting.

Lawler away from the cage for now, but MacDonald continuing to trouble him with kicks and punches. He survives the onslaught, but he looks less than stead on his feet.

Another head kick from MacDonald. Not as rocked by that one though. Lawler lands a short combo which may give him a little confidence. He lands a little more offense as he gets a second wind in this fight.

MacDonald throws up that head kick again, but Lawler is ok this time. MacDonald with a takedown attempt, but Lawler sprawls quickly, showing he’s definitely still got something left in the locker.

Body kick from MacDonald. Left and a right from Lawler. MacDonald lands a punch. left hand gets through for Lawler. Final seconds of the round and Lawler is trying to push forward and MacDonald tries the head kick, but it’s blocked.

Lawler stares down MacDonald at the end of the round, and MacDonald responds in kind until they are ushered back to their corners.

Round Five:

MacDonald’s face still leaking blood as they start the final round, his nose is a mess. Lawler looks fired up despite taking a lot of damage himself in the last couple of rounds.

Superman punch from MacDonald. Jab lands for Lawler. he lands a few more punches in close. Huge left for Lawler staggers MacDonald slightly, but he might be ok…wait, maybe not, Lawler lands another big left hand and MacDonald almost in slow motion sinks to the mat as if he’s had enough. And that’s it, Lawler gets the TKO victory with one minute gone in the fifth and final round!

MacDonald was feeling at his nose just before he sunk to the mat, so it must have been busted up really bad. What an amazing title fight. Just a round earlier it looked as if MacDonald was very close to taking the belt, but Lawler showed true warriors spirit to come back and finish him. A fantastic war!