, Port Arthur, Texas

August 3, 2013

David Estrada column: Lawler's stock should be on rise

The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —     The eighth installment of UFC on Fox was held last Saturday night before a packed Seattle KeyArena crowd. From it came the continuing accession of a longtime veteran, a boo-worthy performance by two contenders, and a new player in the talk of best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

    Longtime MMA fans will remember the brash, young "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler from his UFC beginnings in 2002. Few fighters were more intense than the then 20-year-old Miletich Fighting Systems product which made him a crowd-pleasing favorite. Success was fleeting for Lawler, however, as he lost two UFC bouts in 2004 and left the promotion.

    Lawler later fought for promotions such as Pride and got national exposure fighting on EliteXC and Strikeforce events aired on CBS and Showtime. After nine years away from the UFC he returned this year more mature, but no less intense.

    RRL knocked out welterweight stalwart Josh Koshcheck in February at

UFC 157 and was a natural choice for the UFC on Fox event for his

attention-getting fighting style. Lawler took out his opponent, Bobby Voelker,

with a left high kick to the pleasure of Fox executives.

    If Lawler continues his winning ways, he could continue to be featured on

nationally televised events and perhaps be a contender again like he was nearly a decade ago.

    The co-main event of UFC on Fox 8 was arguably more highly anticipated by fans than the main event. Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger were both near the top rung of the UFC welterweight ladder and their matchup on Saturday would surely have a ripple effect on the division.

    The bout will go down in the books as one of the most non-eventful co-main events ever. Ellenberger's forte has been victory by early round knockout and he had shown a propensity to gas out in later rounds. MacDonald has been a technician of a fighter without the explosiveness of a guy like Ellenberger.

    Well, a fight never really transpired during this bout. Ellenberger paced

himself and never initiated the onslaught of an attack he's been known for.

Rory MacDonald essentially just countered and landed jabs in a ho-hum bout that had the crowd booing.

    MacDonald won the bout by decision but didn't win any new fans.

    The UFC flyweight champion, Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, was placed in the main event in front of his hometown Seattle fans. He defended his belt against relative unknown flyweight John Moraga.

    Mighty Mouse Johnson put on a virtuoso performance with a complete display of movement, elusiveness, ground defense, and offense. He was clearly winning every single round of his bout but didn't stop pressing on in the fifth and final round. Johnson went for a kimura submission on Moraga and beautifully transitioned to an armbar forcing Moraga to verbally submit.

    The two-time defending UFC flyweight champion is now rightfully being discussed with the likes of Georges St. Pierre, Anderson "The Spider" Silva, and Jon "Bones" Jones as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. One could argue he is the most versatile fighter in the UFC and definitely a model of what young mixed martial artists should aspire to be like.

    David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at