UFC champions are having a hell of time holding on to their belts.
The latest reigning champ to suffer a stunning loss is welterweight Robbie Lawler, who was knocked out by Tyron Woodley at Saturday's UFC 201 main event in Atlanta. Woodley needed just over two minutes to send Lawler to the mat, and he did it with tremendous force.
Both fighters came out tentatively after the opening bell, sizing each other up for the first minute. Despite his reputation as a top-flight wrestler, Woodley tried to stay on his feet and utilize the ferocious right hand that he’s become known for.
With just over two minutes gone in the first round, Woodley found his opening. He got Lawler to bite on a feint and then nailed him with a thundering knockout blow. Lawler went to the mat immediately and Woodley pounced on him. Curtains.
"We just knew Robbie would be well-prepared for takedowns and hit me with knees and uppercuts," Woodley said. "I used a little speed, a blitz to cover the gap. I saw the opening and went for the right hand. Something kept telling me the right hand would be open."
Woodley’s win is all the more impressive considering how long it’s been since he’s fought. His last fight was in January of 2015.
With his win, Woodley becomes the seventh UFC fighter to snatch a title belt in as many months and he’s already thinking about who he’ll fight next. Stephen Thompson, who’s on a seven-fight win streak and listed by the UFC as the number one contender for the welterweight belt, seems like a good possibility.
"I think Nick Diaz comes off suspension in two days. I would love to fight him at UFC 202," Woodley said. "I think he deserves it. He's a guy who's been around the sport for a long time, puts a lot of butts in the seats, sells a lot of pay-per-views.
"Or I would like to fight Georges St-Pierre in New York City.”