Jake Ellenberger vs. Robbie Lawler: What We Learned from UFC 173 Tilt

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2014

USA Today

Jake Ellenberger and Robbie Lawler have delighted fans in the past and are legitimate title threats...but both needed a win entering UFC 173.

Ellenberger rose quickly through the welterweight ranks, but he suffered a brutal loss to Martin Kampmann and most recently suffered an ugly loss to Rory MacDonald, who froze him in place with his jab. Lawler, meanwhile, went from being a middling veteran to a resurgent title contender, but he needed to reassert his dominance after coming up just short against Johny Hendricks when they fought for the belt at UFC 171.

When they faced off, Lawler dominated Ellenberger from pillar to post before scoring an emphatic knockout in the third round on Saturday night in Las Vegas.


Jake Ellenberger Has Unlearned How to Fight

Seriously. This bout was genuinely sad to watch.

Ellenberger was an absolute killer from 2010 through 2012, scoring huge knockouts over enduring names like Mike Pyle and Jake Shields. Against MacDonald, though, he seemed to be too scared to mount up an offensive effort. It was even worse here against Lawler.

While most fighters will revert back to their basest form when struggling, Ellenberger, a genuinely well-honed wrestler, couldn't even muster up the wherewithal for a takedown. If anybody wants to declare an end to Ellenberger's career...I'm not going to disagree.


Robbie Lawler Is Still a Beast

Yup. Pretty straightforward right here. Lawler looked like a beast.

He stuck, he moved and he hurt Ellenberger. His punches are deadly, his knees are deadly and other things he didn't do during the fight are also probably deadly.

With his strong takedown defense and potent striking, there isn't a single welterweight fighter he can't beat.


Robbie Lawler Probably Won't Get a Title Shot Soon, Though

Yeah, he looked great, but I'd be shocked if he got another shot at the belt anytime soon. That's unfortunate, of course, since he was so dominant here, but the fact of the matter is that he is playing to a very small crowd.

On top of that, he likely (wrongly) absorbs some of the blame for the relatively weak UFC 171 buyrate. With the UFC desperately seeking new stars, it's probably going to be more likely to go all-in on Tyron Woodley or MacDonald. Hell, it could even go for the winner of Dong Hyun Kim vs. Hector Lombard to help the UFC secure its footing in South Korea or Central America.

Either way, Lawler is left out in the cold.


Jake Ellenberger Needs to Rediscover His Wrestling

Edmond Tarverdyan, best known for coaching Ronda Rousey and generally managing her entire team during The Ultimate Fighter season 18, was working Ellenberger's corner for this fight. While he didn't do anything bad as a cornerman, Ellenberger's current training model clearly isn't cutting it. 

He needs to get back to his wrestling. Plain and simple. Since getting cracked by Kampmann, he has become an awkward power puncher and little else.

Ellenberger has the tools to win against high-level competition. I'm sure he does. He just needs to go find them again.