Placed in a position where he had just three fights before entering the company via The Ultimate Fighter 15, Lawrence’s youth did not serve him well against much more experienced fighters.
“I’m a young guy as far as MMA goes. I’ve only been training it for three or four years and I got by just because I was talented with my striking, but I had a lot to learn,” said Lawrence.
“A lot of those guys learned their lessons on local shows, whereas I learned my lessons in the UFC at the highest level possible. I wouldn’t really say it was a rough year, but I would say I learned a lot as a fighter.”
Since his release from the promotion earlier this year after suffering his second consecutive loss in the company, Lawrence has worked hard to develop his entire game in preparations for his return.
“I’ve never really had to showcase my jiu-jitsu or my wrestling because my striking was so dominant,” he said. “I really feel like I’m able to mix all three styles together fluidly now and I feel like I’m able to take the fight anywhere and dominate.”
Lawrence’s return to MMA will come on Friday, Oct. 25, when he makes his promotional debut at RFA 10 against fellow up-and-coming prospect Luis Saldana (7-1) in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I’ve got to go out there and mainly out-last Saldana,” said Lawrence (4-2). “I feel like I’m the better fighter all around. I’m the bigger, stronger fighter, and at the end of the day I want to be able to take him down, and take him out of his rhythm. If I get on top, I’ve got to execute. If I end up on my back, I’ve got to not freak out.
“He’s a striker and I’m a striker, so if we stand-up, it’s who dictates the range and dictates the jab who wins the fight.”
Lawrence told MMAWeekly.com that he’s viewing his time in the RFA as an opportunity to build himself up and become a more experienced fighter and then use that experience to return to the big stage of MMA.
“At the end of the day, we’re all chasing titles, and I’m no different,” he said. “I’m chasing the RFA title and I plan on holding that thing for a while before I go back to the UFC. By that time I should be more a primed, more seasoned veteran.
“By that time it should be a ‘been there done that’ type deal and I should know what it takes and should be able to deal with the pressure better.”