Robbie Lawler has been around a long time. So long, in fact, that he remembers when Dana White had hair. But in the time since he first set foot in the Octagon, he’s been on winning streaks, been on losing streaks, won a belt, and took part in some absolute wars. He is the human embodiment of a punch to the face.

Rafael dos Anjos is pretty salt, too, and as a former champ, he’s fought at a very high level. But he was the king of the lightweights until a Eddie Alvarez and Tony Ferguson got a hold of him, so for all of 2017 it’s been about the Brazilian finding himself as a welterweight – which is Lawler’s realm.

Ladies and gents, this is your UFC on FOX 26 main event.

A decade ago, Lawler would’ve put everything behind his punches and worked to put RDA away in the first round. But maturity has tempered that recklessness, so Round 1 has Lawler absorbing kicks to the leg and jabs to the face while maintaining a measured response of punches to Dos Anjos’ face and body whenever opening present themselves.

They don’t present themselves too often, though. Constant movement away from Lawler’s power punches is RDA’s prime directive, and whenever they’re in close, RDA latches onto Lawler’s neck with a suffocating Thai clinch that stifles all but Lawler’s body punches.

Then, somewhere in the second or third round, Lawler suddenly loses steam. An injury – maybe to his knee, or maybe to his hip – has him unable to really plant himself to throw hard leather. And when you take that away from Lawler… let’s just say it gets ugly.

To his credit, Lawler comes out swinging for every round. But Dos Anjos is no fool and knows Lawler can’t do much more than land a lucky punch, so he repeatedly backs his opponent against the cage, peppers him with kicks to the leg, and jabs. At one point, Lawler covers up and absorbs an RDA flurry for unheard of 23 seconds, but he emerges with a smile and keeps going. Still, his movement is limited, and RDA cruises to a clear-cut decision after five rounds.

 

Results: Rafael dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via Unanimous Decision