Robbie Lawler reinvented his career at the age of 31, ladies and gentlemen.
Taking on lauded prospect Rory MacDonald at UFC 167, Lawler showcased excellent takedown defense alongside his signature power punches to earn a split-decision victory.
One year ago, the thought of Lawler stepping into the Octagon at all seemed unlikely, and now he has rattled off three straight victories in 2013—the latest over the No. 3 fighter in the welterweight division.
That's insane. "Ruthless" is back, and he's a scary threat to the entire division.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
While MacDonald carries a ton of excitement around his career and future, Lawler snatched it all away with his sledgehammer fists.
He hurt MacDonald several times throughout the bout, and his takedown defense stood up to the young Canadian's grappling attack time after time.
We will remember Lawler's impressive performance and MacDonald's flop on the big stage.
What We Learned About MacDonald
Rory MacDonald is not the immediate future of the UFC's welterweight division.
With a great camp and a well-rounded skill set, he is a tough out for any 170-pound fighter, but he is just not ready for title contention yet.
He could not control Lawler on the mat, and he had no answer for his opponent's power on the feet, which left him just short of victory.
However, MacDonald did showcase some serious heart and determination in this bout.
In his UFC debut against Carlos Condit, he folded in the third and final round, but the Tristar product hung tough and ended this fight on top, raining elbows on Lawler.
While MacDonald's stock drops significantly with this loss, we did learn that he has the will to persevere in the face of adversity.
What We Learned About Lawler
Lawler can compete at the highest level of the UFC's welterweight division.
Many people considered MacDonald to be the future of the division. He was the champion on deck, just waiting for his friend and training partner Georges St-Pierre to step away from the sport.
Lawler put an end to that talk, stopping the MacDonald hype train at the station.
What's Next for MacDonald?
Like MacDonald, Maia suffered a disappointing loss just as he reached the brink of title contention, so this fight makes sense for both men moving forward.
What's Next for Lawler?
Lawler deserves a No. 1-contender fight next, and the winner of UFC Fight Night 34's matchup between Jake Ellenberger and Tarec Saffiedine would provide just that.
This bout makes sense for both sides, and it would maintain the divisional flow toward the top.