by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Florida based fighter Tom Lawlor made his way into “The Ultimate Fighter” house with an impressive win in his first fight, but soon after he was squaring off against Ryan Bader in the first official match-up of the season. Now, following a loss to Bader, his run on the show has ended.
Lawlor spoke to MMAWeekly.com about the experience on the show and the fight with Bader that led to his exit from The Ultimate Fighter.
Just after the fighters made their homes in The Ultimate Fighter house, they were back at the gym picking teams and Lawlor says he was happy to end up on Team Mir.
“My first thought is of course, Nogueira’s the heavyweight champion or the interim champion, I’d love to be on his team, but then when you take a look at really the work that Frank Mir does as a commentator, it brings a different aspect to it as far as being able to analyze a fight,” Lawlor told MMAWeekly.com “When I got there to the training center and saw that he had Robert Drysdale as one of his assistant coaches, I thought wow this is amazing.
“That’s a situation I’d rather be involved in, because Drysdale is an Abu Dhabi champion, just amazing on the ground, and I figured he had more to offer than maybe teaching me how to take a beating like Nogueira does.”
Following the team picks, the first bout was announced and Lawlor admits he wasn’t surprised that he was chosen to fight Bader right out of the gate.
“No, actually after the team picks were made and you get to see what the coaches think of you and your skills, I wasn’t really surprised,” Lawlor said about the fight pick. “It would only make sense for them to go ahead and match-up their No. 1 guy with the other team’s No. 4 guy.
“You could tell if you watch the show by the way Nogueira talked about Ryan Bader, he pretty much put all his stock in him in the light heavyweights. I’m not even sure if he looked at the list of people after he picked Bader.”
Going into the fight it seemed only natural that Bader, a two time All-American wrestler, would try to take the fight to the ground, but it was Lawlor’s good defense early on that he thinks led to his downfall.
“My thoughts were that he was going to go ahead and shoot in early,” Lawlor commented. “I did get a chance to watch his fight against Kyle Kingsbury in the prelims and his stand-up looked alright, but I thought that I would be quicker on my feet, quicker on my punches and be able to beat him on the feet.
“If you watch the fight, he takes two shots in the first 30 seconds and I stop both of them and I think maybe that could have been the worst thing I could have done because then I got over confident in my takedown defense.”
Lawlor’s over confidence was the determining factor in the opening that would soon lead to the end of the fight as he swung hard at his opponent, which left him wide open for a textbook takedown.
“Basically, what I tried to do is take his head off in that one instant instead of being a little bit more patient,” said Lawlor. “I’m not going to say the fight would have had a different result, but it would have gone a little bit longer. I try to push the action, try to push the pace, I’ve never had a fight go into the second round and I’m trying to stay true to that whether it’s good for me or it’s bad for me.”
Soon after the takedown, Bader postured up and when Lawlor tried to push him away, he was instead greeted with a thunderous punch that stopped the fight.
“I was basically just putting my feet on his hips to try and create space and I was expecting him to come down with a punch and I guess I was going to go ahead and try to move at the last second to escape, but his hand was quicker than my head,” Lawlor stated. “He caught me pretty good.”
With his fight now over, Lawlor says fans can expect to see him involved in some craziness around the house, but overall he stayed focused on training and looks forward if the chance to compete in the UFC ever comes again.
As for his experience on The Ultimate Fighter, Lawlor is happy with his choice to be on the show and has no regrets.
“There’s no way I couldn’t tell you that wasn’t a positive (experience). It was my first chance to really train with a large number of guys who at another level or go ahead and take a step towards that,” said Lawlor.
“Very positive experience for me.”