“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
That quote is credited to Theodore Roosevelt. It was often cited by the American president while in office, but it easily applies to another American, mixed martial artist Robbie Lawler. Except that Lawler, instead of carrying the metaphoric big stick, packs the power in his fists.
A prime example of Lawler’s embodiment of the saying is the way he has handled questions regarding Jake Shields, a longtime welterweight, moving up to 182 pounds to face the H.I.T. Squad fighter.
“You definitely have to be strong at 170, which he was. Hopefully his strength comes with him up to 185,” Lawler told MMAWeekly.com recently with his typical understated demeanor, not looking past the No. 4 ranked welterweight.
“I think he knows what he’s in there with,” he said about Shields. “I don’t think he would have taken the fight not knowing what kind of fighter I am. I think he thinks he can nullify me, and I just need to be ready.”
Of course, Shields has been working on nullifying Lawler’s strengths. It will be difficult to deter the Midwesterner’s punching power, but the Caesar Gracie trained fighter has been shoring up his wrestling skills, another strong suite of Lawler’s.
“I’ve been bringing in lots of big wrestlers to train with, guys that are around 200 pounds, and I’m guessing Robbie’s somewhere around there, so I’m going to have guys at his weight that I’m fighting with,” Shields told MMAWeekly.com.
Wrestling appears to be the key to both fighters’ plans. Lawler will be bigger and more powerful, and is known for his knockouts. Shields’ biggest strengths lie on the ground. So the wrestling game is likely to determine who gets his way and where the fight will take place.
“I definitely don’t want him on top of me,” admitted Lawler. “He’s got a great top game and he looks to finish, looks to mount and looks to improve position so being on the ground is definitely not a good place to be.”
In the scope of things, this is a big fight to pundits in the MMA world. The No. 4 ranked welterweight moving up to challenge himself against the world’s No. 2 ranked middleweight. And the fight is in Lawler’s backyard, no less.
Such matters don’t sway the reserved bomber.
“It’s not a big deal. I’m looking at it as another fight,” he says of fighting in St. Louis, where he currently resides. Lawler just wants a win “however I can get a win.”