Yesterday Joe Rogan spent most of his podcast eviscerating his friend Brendan Schaub, taking the heavyweight to task for losing via TKO to Travis Browne at UFC 181 this past weekend, and casting serious doubt on whether or not Schaub can truly compete at an elite level. It’s rough listening – but very much worthwhile – and it’s something that needed to be said. Schaub is a good fighter, but he’s not the best and lately he’s been taking a beating, and only now are we acknowledging that beatings can ultimately lead to lasting brain damage. (Duh.) Of course, Schaub’s reaction to the heart-to-heart was defiance. He is a fighter after all, and by their very natures, fighters thrive on facing down adversity when no one but them can see the glimpse of victory that awaits them on the other side of their next fight.
Which is why, in the case of Brendan Schaub – and every other fighter nearing the inevitable end of his or her career – Robbie Lawler winning the belt is the worst thing in the world.
Much has been made of Lawler’s improbable longevity in the sport. He first appeared in the Octagon back at UFC 37 in 2002, and nearly 12 years later, after crossing an ocean of ups and downs, he’s now the UFC welterweight champ at the ripe old age of 32.
Seeing that, and looking back at the success of old man Randy Couture, how can someone like Schaub not be lulled into a sense of false hope that the unlikely and nigh impossible are possible? How can Schaub not see Lawler as a shining example of what could be if he just learns to avoid uppercuts better and polish his jiu-jitsu bottom game?
The greatest enemy of reality is delusion. And thanks to Lawler – who unquestionably deserves his championship title and all the accolades he’s earned – fighters like Schaub will keep riding their crippled steeds into battle until they’re dead.