Freelance: UFC 201 Preview Lawler vs. Woodley

Things are getting hectic in the world’s most popular Mixed Martial Arts promotion. Titles have been changing hands left and right–first, the Heavyweight division gets a new face in power striker Stipe Miocic. Michael “The Count” Bisping then defeated former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 and Eddie Alvarez took the Lightweight title from Rafael dos Anjos during International Fight Week.

The co-main event of UFC 200 saw the Women’s Bantamweight championship go to the division’s third new queen, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes, in as many fights. Could the Welterweight division be next Champion “Ruthless”Robbie Lawler faces Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley this weekend at UFC 201 from Atlanta, Georgia. Have a look at the combatants’ numbers.

The experience edge goes to Lawler (27-10 in MMA, 12-4 in the UFC) but of his opponent’s three defeats (15-3 in MMA, 5-2 in the UFC) he has only been finished on a single occasion. A negative for Woodley though is that he is coming off over a year without fighting, while Lawler at least fought Carlos Condit in January.

The St. Louisan attributes his time away to working on new techniques as he chose to wait for his title shot after getting the nod of the judges against Kelvin Gastelum.

Based on the official UFC profiles of both men, viewers should expect this contest to remain largely a boxing match. Woodley has a 92 percent takedown defense rate. Lawler leads him in striking defense with 63 percent. He also has a 71 percent success rate in striking on the feet (579 out of his 818 landed blows were standing.)

Still, the challenger thinks he can shock the world on Saturday night.

“I might be knocking him the hell out – that’s how I think about it,” Woodley told “It’s one thing to look at someone that’s been in these wars, and also look at what happens during them. Where are the guys standing at when they’re taking this damage? They’re standing right in front of his ass. They’re going back-and-forth – you hit me, I hit you.”

“…I’ve given myself so many different options. I just feel like I’m going to win this fight. I don’t know how. I don’t know if it’s going to be a gutsy decision. I don’t know if it’s going to be a knockout or a submission. But either way, I visualize myself getting my hands raised so many different ways that I’m just excited. I can’t wait, I’m definitely ready for this.”

CBS Sports has noted though that Woodley’s kryptonite is an exposed chin during offensive striking; this could be the champion’s opportunity to pounce. With a little less than 48 hours until showtime, fans are making their opinions known. 84 percent of fans that have made picks on UFC Pick ‘Em for the event have Lawler getting the W (73 percent by KO.)

So, who’s your pick?

UFC 201 will also be the first Pay-Per-View went for new owners Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell of WME-IMG following the sale of the UFC for $4 billion (the largest transaction in sports history) in July.