Initially set to take on Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night Minneapolis, Robbie Lawler’s next opponent is now unclear.
A hand injury forced Woodley to withdraw from their June 29th main event and in response, a group of Welterweights threw their name in the replacement hat. However, Lawler still didn’t get a new opponent for that particular date. Instead, the Heavyweight contender clash between Junior dos Santos and Francis Ngannou will now headline that event.
Originally, that bout was scheduled for the following week, a part of the UFC 239 PPV. It now moves to Minnesota though and as a result, Lawler’s return to the octagon is delayed. The motivation for that is now seemingly becoming clear though, with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reporting the likely reason for his removal. In response to the new main event announcement, Helwani tweeted the following:
Lawler stands his ground. Nothing interested him outside of Woodley and Askren rematches. https://t.co/Tp97NjdKSp— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 21, 2019
Considering the circumstances surrounding Lawler’s loss to Askren, his approach here is understandable. After appearing moments away from victory opposite the undefeated octagon newcomer, ‘Ruthless’ was then defeated, with referee Herb Dean stopping proceedings as Askren had the Bulldog Choke applied. He felt that Lawler was unconscious but after the decision was made, Lawler immediately sprung upright, passionately disputing the verdict right away.
However, with Askren seemingly uninterested in an immediate rematch, Lawler received the next best thing. A rematch with Woodley presented the chance to redeem his first stoppage loss in over a decade. Almost three years ago, Woodley brought a sudden end to Lawler’s memorable Welterweight Title reign and after recently losing his own 170 lbs crown, the pair’s rematch made perfect sense.
That’s back off the table for now though of course, with Lawler seemingly opting to wait it out as his two chosen opponents tackle other issues.