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UFC 173: Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2014

UFC 173: Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    This Saturday is destined to be one of the best pay-per-view cards of the year.

    From top to bottom, UFC 173 offers something for everyone.

    However, there's one main card showdown that has the potential to capture audiences from around the world—one that has the capability of producing perhaps the best back-and-forth affair the welterweight division has seen in years.

    Of course, I'm talking about Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger.

    Here's the initial head-to-toe breakdown for their tantalizing matchup this weekend. 

Striking Versatility

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Lawler and Ellenberger are not the greatest of strikers.

    They pack some serious power in each one of their punches, but they're not going to fool anybody with their stylistic approach.

    That said, Ellenberger showed he's unable to stay effective against a more technically sound striker when he lost to Rory MacDonald in rather uneventful fashion back in July.

    Lawler is going to be more inviting than MacDonald was because he can back up his actions with devastating knockout power, but Ellenberger isn't going to do much that will throw "Ruthless" off-kilter.

    Instead, he'll have to pay attention to Lawler's flying knees, powerful head kicks and inside uppercuts.

    Both fighters remain fairly one-dimensional on their feet, but Lawler stands to connect with more variety.

    Slight Advantage: Lawler

Punching Power

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Pitting Lawler's punching power against Ellenberger's is like throwing a live grenade into a fire.

    As two of the hardest-hitting welterweights in the world, both men are able to detach their opponents from consciousness with one swift blow.

    Combine those natural gifts and you have one of the more volatile matchups you could ask for.

    The fact of the matter is that each fighter has only been knocked out once in his career. Not to mention they've each added 18 finishes by knockout or TKO in their own respective manner.

    It would be foolish to pick one guy over the other because all they seem to do is win by utilizing relentless one-punch knockout power.

    Anything could happen, so let's hope nothing does happen until at least the second round.

    Push

Wrestling Prowess

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Not a lot of people know this, but Carlos Condit is the only fighter to ever take Ellenberger down in his UFC career.

    That's crazy considering Ellenberger has faced top-level wrestlers like Rory MacDonald and Jake Shields.

    He isn't the most decorated wrestler you're going to come across in the sport, but Ellenberger's track record inside the Octagon suggests Lawler is going to find it difficult to keep this fight off the ground, assuming Ellenberger wants to take it there.

    With that being said, even though Lawler is more susceptible to fighting off his back, he's one of the best in the business at getting back to his feet.

    Just ask MacDonald.

    Even so, his ability to stand back up isn't going to outweigh Ellenberger's success to take him down when the scorecards get filled out.

    Significant Advantage: Ellenberger

Ground Game

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    Lawler and Ellenberger are not known for their submission games.

    They're punchers at heart and always seem to lean that way when the tough gets going.

    However, in today's MMA, being well-rounded often spells the difference between winning and losing. That's why it's important to do whatever it takes to gain the upper hand, especially over an opponent who possesses a similar makeup.

    With that said, Ellenberger seems to be the better grappler on paper. Unlike Lawler's five career defeats by submission (50 percent of his losses), Ellenberger has only tapped once, and that was early in his career back in 2007.

    It's unlikely that he is game-planning to outgrapple Lawler, especially considering Ruthless is one of the strongest fighters out there, but Ellenberger must be glad to know he'll have the advantage should an opportunity present itself.

    Advantage: Ellenberger

Intangibles

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    Besides Matt Brown, no welterweight in the UFC right now possesses the gritty awareness and overall bravado of Lawler.

    The guy is an absolute beast in the toughest of situations, making it nearly impossible to beat him at his own game.

    Ellenberger will most certainly try, but it would be borderline suicide to come inside on a bruising barbarian who is capable of standing and banging with the baddest of middleweights, let alone welterweights.

    It's sometimes rudimentary to gauge intangibles and predict a winner based on an unmeasurable skill set, but you'd be fooling yourself if Lawler's natural brutality and unbreakable chin aren't going to factor into this fight.

    Significant Advantage: Lawler

Verdict

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Nobody doubts Lawler's power and potential anymore.

    He is displaying the athletic attributes and overall skill set to remain part of the division's title picture for years to come.

    However, when you pit him against a far superior wrestler—like he was when he narrowly captured victory opposite MacDonald—he tends to fight from behind.

    Unfortunately for Lawler, Ellenberger is more seasoned and prepared to battle than MacDonald was. He's not going to fold in the third round and relinquish a decision that's more or less in the bag.

    It's possible that Lawler gets to Ellenberger early and hurts him, but once he starts to plod in and give up the takedown, "The Juggernaut" will not turn a blind eye.

    Verdic: Ellenberger via split decision

     

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