Robbie Lawler (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

Combat Press 2014 MMA Awards: Fighter of the Year – Robbie Lawler

It’s the holiday season, and with the new year quickly approaching, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of 2014. Throughout the week, Combat Press will announce its award winners in 16 different categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.

Fighter of the Year – Robbie Lawler

It’s been 10 years since the first battle between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell at UFC 47. It’s a fight many fans will never forget. On the very same evening, Nick Diaz knocked out the ever-durable Robbie Lawler in devastating fashion. Fast forward to today, and who would have thought that in the year 2014, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler would be the UFC welterweight champion? Nobody. Well, except for the man himself.

The career resurgence of “Ruthless” is one that will be forever engrained in the minds and hearts of every diehard fight fan. Here you have a fighter who during his tenure with Strikeforce, where he fought as a middleweight, amassed a bleak 3-4 record and looked to be on his way out of the mixed martial arts world. When Strikeforce folded in 2012, most fans didn’t expect to see him fight again, let alone in the UFC. Apparently no one told that to Lawler.


Lawler was welcomed back to his home on Feb. 23, 2013, against a very tough opponent in Josh Koscheck. The bout came in a weight class below where Lawler had been fighting. It took less than five minutes for the UFC to realize that it had made the best decision possible, because that is all it took for Lawler to dismantle Koscheck. Lawler made the statement he needed to prove that he belonged inside the Octagon.

In the next year and a half, Lawler went on a tear that was unfounded. He took out Bobby Voelker and Rory MacDonald before the UFC granted him a shot at the vacant UFC welterweight crown against the tough Johny Hendricks to open Lawler’s 2014 campaign. Hendricks put a halt to Lawler’s resurgence, but it wouldn’t last long.

Lawler got back in the cage less than two months after falling short in his bid for UFC gold. He faced Jake Ellenberger and, once again, Lawler came out victorious. Lawler went on to defeat “The Immortal” Matt Brown to earn a rematch with Hendricks. Once more, he was just one step away from capturing UFC gold.

In a spectacular turn of events, Lawler was awarded the split decision victory in a hard-fought battle with Hendricks in early December at UFC 181. Lawler was the new UFC welterweight champion.

What most fans don’t see is something that the UFC welterweight division has been missing: a good old-fashioned trilogy. Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes did their dance, but no one has been able to fill that void since … until now. Hendricks and Lawler have slugged it out for 10 rounds, and the fans will definitely not be opposed to seeing rounds 11-15 and another grueling and exciting performance from these two men.

Congratulations to “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, the Combat Press selection for 2014 Fighter of the Year. He has gained maturity over all his years in the sport and used that, along with experience and pure heart, to make a Cinderella story come true inside the Octagon.

Other Finalists: T.J. Dillashaw, Donald Cerrone

Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2014 MMA Award winners.