Winning the UFC welterweight championship was a monumental achievement in Robbie Lawler‘s career and something he’ll never forget.
Considering Lawler was once touted as the next big thing in the division before he struggled through several fights early in his career and leaving the UFC in 2004, returning to the promotion and becoming champion was almost like a lifetime achievement.
Unfortunately, Lawler’s reign as champion came to an end last year when he suffered a knockout loss to Tyron Woodley after having defended the title on two previous occasions.
Now as Lawler prepares for his main event fight against Rafael dos Anjos this weekend, UFC president Dana White has already teased that the winner will be the No. 1 contender in the division with a shot at the title looming overhead.
As much as Lawler enjoyed being champion — and he’d absolutely love to do it again — it’s not something he’s exactly chasing rather than allowing it to happen if he goes out and puts on the best performance possible.
That’s what matters most to Lawler and earning another shot at UFC gold would just be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
“It’s definitely a huge thing to get in your career and to retain that,” Lawler said about winning the UFC title when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I want to fight to the best of my abilities and if I fight to the best of my abilities, there’s no stopping me and that belt is just the cherry on top.
“It’s just focusing on my skills, focusing on my training, and focusing on my growth, and the belts and the money kind of come with that. That’s kind of secondary to everything else.”
On paper, a win from Lawler could also earn him a shot at redemption against Woodley, who was the first person since Nick Diaz in 2004 to earn a knockout against veteran welterweight.
While personal grudges play a big part in motivation for some fighters, Lawler just isn’t built that way.
Rather than sulking about his loss, Lawler took it as a learning lesson to get better and fix what went wrong that night, so he could ultimately return as a better fighter.
Lawler would definitely like to get another shot at the title and a second crack at Woodley, but it’s only to showcase how much better he’s gotten since the last time they faced off because he doesn’t look at defeats as a blow to his ego or his resume.
Instead, Lawler prefers to think of every loss as another to way to learn something new.
“Have I really lost or have I just learned a whole bunch?” Lawler said. “You only really lose if you don’t learn anything and you don’t develop and you don’t create some sort of growth out of a (expletive) situation. That’s what I’ve always focused on with all these losses.
“Just finding a way to turn them into motivation or to get better and turning these losses into wins somehow.”