UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler fought hard to get to the top. And he’s out to prove that he has serious staying power in the world of mixed martial arts. 

He fought four times in 2014, spending a total of 87 minutes in the Octagon. Two of those 2014 bouts were title fights, dropping his initial effort in a unanimous decision loss to rival Johny Hendricks. “Ruthless” ravaged Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown in the following months, setting up another tussle with “Bigg Rigg.” At the end of another 25-minute title romp, the 33-year-old American Top Team athlete captured the crown he so desperately coveted. 

When Lawler, who fought at middleweight for eight years prior to his second UFC stint, was brought back into the fold, the heavy-hitter knew what he was up against.

“I was always a 170-pounder and when I came back to the UFC, I knew that I was going to move down to 170. I was always watching these guys,” Lawler says. “It came down to my coaches getting me ready but I knew style-wise, moving down to 170, guys were quicker, which means their output is high so I have to have a high output to make sure I’m winning these fights.”


Now, Lawler’s sights are set on keeping the belt around his waist by making his first successful title defense against a familiar foe, Canadian Rory MacDonald. The pair previously met at UFC 167 in November 2013, with Lawler capturing a razor-close, split-decision win. 

“I’m excited about the work I’m about to put in,” says Lawler. “My body and mind are ready to go. I can’t wait for July 11.”

Both men were recently seen on the UFC 189 World Tour promoting their July 11th bout in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. M&F caught up with the reigning champion during the middle of training camp to discuss his passion for sport, fitness, dieting and nutrition; plus much more. 


M&F: What does your cardio training consist of?
RL: We’ll do sprint down, jog backs; those types of workouts so that you’re blowing your lungs out and getting tired. When we’re lifting, the closer we get to a fight, we do the same type of thing except body weight stuff. So we’re doing like jump lunges followed by AirDyne bike sprints, and right to pullups, to a heavy rope slam.

In MMA, you have to have strong muscles, you can’t just run forever. You have to be able to move weights and be dynamic, explosive. You have to work on everything. Making sure you’re changing speeds in your workouts and hitting different gears. 

M&F: Has your love for sport and working out benefitted you in MMA?
RL: I’ve been lifting weights since third grade. I’ve always enjoyed reading about lifting weights, running and playing sports. I enjoy it so I don’t really ever feel like I’ve worked a day in my life. When I’m done fighting, I’m still going to be working out. It’s just a part of my life. That’s why I’ve been able to last this long in the sport because I really enjoy working out and I like MMA. When you love sports like I do it just kind of keeps you going. I still have that drive. I feel like a little kid. 

M&F: Is “the drive” stronger now?
RL: I just feel like it’s strong. I don’t really compare it to whenever it was. I just feel good. It’s smarter now, I have a coach behind me telling me what to do. It’s exciting. Just getting better and working on things. It keeps me feeling young when I’m still learning things.

M&F: You’ve studied Taekwondo. Did that inspire you to become an MMA fighter and how come we don’t see that Robbie in the cage?
RL: I always liked fighting and boxing so Taekwondo was the first thing my dad let me get into that was competitive. At a really young age, I’d watch boxing, listen to the commentators, and learn some stuff. I’d hit my heavy bag and then I started wrestling so it was just kind of a natural evolution of me finding ways to learn how to fight and be able to dominate another person. 

M&F: Out of the fighters you know from American Top Team and anywhere else, is anybody doing yoga?
RL: Yeah, lots of guys do yoga. My wife does yoga. But I don’t really do very much yoga. It’s something I’d like to add into my game but I think a lot of MMA fighters are adding that in.

M&F: Do you think that’s an underrated part of a fighter’s training regimen, maybe if we saw more of an emphasis on flexibility and posture that we wouldn’t see as many injuries in MMA?
RL: Everyone is different; it has to do with tendons and ligaments snapping and just guys overtraining but I think it would definitely be huge for fighters to stretch more and do some different activities that bring flexibility to their bodies. 

M&F: Can you briefly take us through the coming weeks leading up to your July bout?
RL: Usually how it works out is, the further out from a fight you are, the more you’re working on power, speed and your workouts are long and vigorous. As you get closer to the fight, each week your workouts get a little shorter and your weight gets a little lighter. You kind of build up a huge base and as you get closer to the fight, you kind of wean yourself off so that you’re fine-tuned. That’s why we have a strength and conditioning coach, a wrestling coach and a head coach. I just show up and work hard. 

Every week, I’m going to try and keep that up my speed, power, and technique. As I get closer to the fight, my workouts can be as short as 30 minutes, not including a the warmup.

MMA has so many different aspects. Monday is the wrestling day but it’s also going to be my sprint day and I’m also going to hit pads. Tuesday, I’ll come in and I’ll do a lift, I’ll work on my jiu-jitsu and hit pads at night. I’ll hit a swim or do a long distance run. Then, Wednesday is basically the same day as Monday. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are usually the same day. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually the same days, with Saturday being more of an intense, cardio-simulated fight workout where you’re getting your body used to the ups and downs of the fight; the grappling; the kicking; punching and you’re doing it at a high pace with all of your training partners. On Sunday, it’s usually a run and stretch. 

M&F: Can you give us a glimpse into your diet?
RL: I eat a lot of lean meats; turkey and chicken. I do steak. I don’t do dairy. Today I woke up and had some coffee, stretched a little bit. Then, I went and ate some sushi. I came back home and had some water with lemonade; did a run and came back and had some turkey and beef with taco seasoning. Some more water and lemonade; tonight I’ll probably have some pasta with a meat sauce. 

I don’t really concentrate too much on how I eat. I just eat how I like. It’s not really a big thing with me. I’ll do meat and potatoes and just try to stay away from dairy. 

M&F: No fruit?
RL: I mean I do fruit, but I’m not hardcore into fruit. I’m not really hardcore into veggies either but I will if they’re there. I do bell peppers and salads. 

M&F: Do you have a chef?
RL: No, I’m not big time or anything like that [laughs]. I’m my own chef. I like cooking. 

M&F: Does you diet tighten up as you get closer to a fight?
RL: Usually as I get closer to a fight, the more I have to eat because I’m just working out so hard. My body is destroying everything I eat so I have to eat a little bit more and I’m able to not have to watch my diet as much. It’s the opposite with me, I usually watch what I eat outside of training camp so when I get to training camp I’m enjoying myself and it’s all about recovery and not my diet. I concentrate on getting stronger and feeding my body what it needs and not having to cut back on calories.