Robbie Lawler produced a remarkable comeback against Rory MacDonald in the co-main event of UFC 189 in Las Vegas last night to successfully defend his welterweight title for the first time, and his TKO finish was even more special when you realize just how much was at stake in that final round.
Both men had put the other in trouble over the course of the four rounds that had proceeded that final stanza. As the round was about to start blood could be seen leaking from MacDonald’s already broken nose again despite constant medical attention from his corner in-between rounds, but technically Lawler should have been the worse for wear at that moment after being wobbled several times in the third and fourth rounds as MacDonald continually found a home for his head kicks and followed up with rapid-fire punches.
Looking back at the fight, UFC President Dana White claims he had the fight all even at that moment, believing that both men had won two rounds apiece, and it certainly looked like there was all to play for, but what’s fascinating to know in hindsight is that all three cage-side judges actually had the fight 3-1 in MacDonald’s favor heading into the fifth.
So while he may not have realized it at the time, Lawler had to find a finish in that five minute spell or else the welterweight title would be leaving wrapped around his opponent’s waist.
As it turned out Lawler required just 60 seconds to seal the deal and secure his first successful title defense as a jackhammer left hand crunched into MacDonald’s busted up nose resulting in the TKO stoppage.
Spectacular stuff, the latest memorable chapter in Lawler’s fairy-tale like existence since his return to the UFC in early 2013, finally fulfilling the promise that he’d only shown tantalizing glimpses of earlier in his carer.
Spare a thought for MacDonald in the afermath of all this though. He’d been tipped to be a UFC champion from very early on his career as a protege of UFC legend Georges St.Pierre and he has all the tools to reach that goal, but so far he’s always just up short at the last moment.
However, it’s worth remembering that MacDonald is actually still only 25 years old, so there’s every chance that in years to come he’ll take a leaf out of Lawler’s book, fulfilling his true potential toe become a UFC champion.