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UFC 201 Predictions

MMA Fight: UFC 201: Lawler vs. Woodley
Key Matches: Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley
When: Saturday, July 30, 2016
Time: 9:00PM EST
Where: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

by Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Robbie Lawler, (-225), 27-10 (20 KOs, 1 Submission) vs. Tyron Woodley, (+185), 15-3 (5 KOs, 5 Submissions)

Over/Under: Over 2.5 (-135), Under 2.5 (-105)

Robbie Lawler defends his UFC Welterweight Championship against top contender Tyron Woodley in the main event of UFC 201 on July 30. The fight will take place in Atlanta at Phillips Arena. Lawler is on a massive roll, on a late-career renaissance for the fighter whose UFC career dates back to 2003. He has lost once during this latest run, in a fight with Johny Hendricks that he later avenged. Meanwhile, Woodley, 34, is coming off two good wins in a row over Dong Hyun Kim and Kelvin Gastelum. Making a Lawler vs. Woodley prediction is not all that easy.

Woodley represents a tough challenge. Three fights ago, he dropped a unanimous decision to tough Rory MacDonald. Directly preceding that, he scored a win over Carlos Condit when a knee injury brought Condit's night to a premature ending. After starting his career 10-0, Woodley lost by KO to Nate Marquardt in 2012, and he lost the following year in a split decision to Jake Shields. But in addition to wins over Kim, Gastelum, and Condit, Woodley has also beaten Tarec Saffiedine, Paul Daley, Jordan Mein, and Josh Koscheck. There's a lot of meat in his 15-3 record.

It wasn't easy for "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler to get to this spot. Maybe there should be some concern about lingering damage. The guy is a born warrior, but how many of those blood-and-guts battles does a fighter have in him? The 34-year old was a well-traveled veteran even before getting into UFC title contention. He then embarked on a series of really tough fights with Rory MacDonald. Johny Hendricks, and Carlos Condit. Still, it's remarkable to note how after 15 years in the sport, Lawler has only been knocked out once—way back in 2004 against Nick Diaz.

It's just that potential Lawler backers need to start worrying about possible diminishing returns with the welterweight champion. And from a betting standpoint, Lawler is now a champion and is getting champion money lines. It was perhaps more appealing to wager on Lawler during his unlikely rise to the top spot at 170 pounds. From 2009-12, he lost 5 of 8 fights. He had been ruled out and was hanging by a thread in the UFC. It took a lot of inner-resource to resurrect his career to this extent. But getting to the top came at a cost and those looking to bet on Lawler must also now pay the cost, with him a better-than 2-to-1 favorite against Woodley.

Lawler's style may not be all that complicated, but it obviously works. He has great hands and looks to slug it out. The champion is more than willing to eat some shots in order to deliver one of his own. And he hits like a ton of bricks—pure and simple. He can take a guy out with one shot and even if an opponent is able to withstand the barrage, the damage will be telling. Ask Rory MacDonald what happens when on the prolonged receiving end of Lawler's handiwork. His face was all but decimated after he lost to Lawler.

Woodley is pretty adept at watering down the action. He has good wrestling, which helps him nullify what the opponent is doing. Not a ton of Woodley fights have been terribly exciting. Many of them have been really close. In a lot of ways, he's a big wet blanket that just has a knack of making other fighters look bad. He has versatility, though he hasn't scored a submission win since he opened his career with 5 in a row. Though not as consistent a striker as Lawler, he has the ability to disconnect the lights of any 170-pounder upon whom he connects solidly. Then again, Lawler not being stopped in 12 years is hardly by accident. After all, the champion is as dangerous as they come and he's indefatigable, able to fight close to his peak even in the fifth round.

Both men are 34, but you get the feeling that Lawler is older. Wear and tear could be an issue in this fight. Woodley hasn't been through the ringer like Lawler has. Woodley has been in some demanding fights, but has been spared the years upon years of wars that Lawler has been exposed to. But it's also hard to imagine Lawler not having the same stamina, heart, determination, and fight-changing power that he always had. It's just that we've seen some fighters grow overnight and some of them didn't have near the miles Lawler has on his MMA odometer.

At first glance, you see Lawler with his 27-10 record and think that he's readily more-beatable than he really is or that he lacks that truly special element that characterized some other welterweight champions like Matt Hughes or Georges St-Pierre. But when you take his heavy hands, stamina, chin, and late-fight power and combine it with the mettle needed to completely reverse career course and go from afterthought to UFC champion, it's clear there is something special about Lawler.


Woodley is no easy night's work. His right hand has legitimate power and his ground-and-pound can be quite devastating. He can land painful leg kicks that really resonate. There's a certain level of explosiveness and athleticism to his overall MMA game. Woodley has good fighting instincts and acts quickly when he senses an advantage can be gained. He's a well put-together 170-pounder who is a dangerous test for anyone. But is he special? Does he have that certain indefinable quality that will allow him to rise to championship status?

I see Woodley contributing to his own undoing in this fight. At some point, he will go for the takedown and pay the price, as the heavy-handed Lawler connects with one of his meat-hook swings. Woodley might try to peck and poke and might employ a more cerebral or at least a more-measured approach than some of Lawler's more recent opponents. But I still don't see him getting through 25 minutes with Lawler in one piece. I'm taking the champion.

Loot's Pick to Win the Lawler-Woodley fight: I'm betting on Robbie Lawler at -225. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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