He is ruthless, powerful, and can be dangerous. No, we are not talking about Kevin Spacey’s character from House of Cards but Robbie Lawler, the reigning champion of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). While the sport is already popular in the US, the UFC fever has now spread to India, too, with fans waking up as early as 6.30 am to catch the live telecast of their favourites in action.
Fighters like Lawler, Nick Diaz, Chuck Liddell and Georges Pierre have a huge fan following in the country. It is reminiscent of the buzz around F1 a few years ago, except that there is no Indian in the fray here.
Lawler has held the prestigious UFC title since December 2014, and promises to fight with as much vigour in the upcoming season, when he defends his title. We get talking to the 33-year-old Welterweight Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion who lets us in on his training, favourite pastime and more.
What does 2016 have in store?
I’m resting right now, but I have a couple of bouts this year. I look forward to whatever UFC will put me through.
What has this break been like, after the title win?
Life is great after winning the title again. I’m feeling good about life in general. Now I’ve started putting in a little bit of work before the season’s training starts.
In a recent interview you mentioned that Floyd Mayweather or any boxer can’t last beyond a round against an MMA fighter.
I’m sure I offended quite a few people around the world, but I was as nice as I could be when I said it. Boxing and MMA are two different sports and, that apart, Mayweather cannot wrestle. It’s a huge disadvantage when someone can’t wrestle in MMA.
Has there been a low point in your 15-year career?
I never lose my spirit. That’s the only thing I can control. I learn from my losses and try to constantly get better—it’s a part of my journey.
In a sport like yours, age plays a huge role. At 33, how far do you think your body can take you?
It is a rigid, rough sport and if your body can’t do it, there’s no point being in the ring. For me, I just take it one fight at a time.
What does Robbie Lawler do when he isn’t fighting?
I watch movies, random programmes on TV and hang out with my family. I also like to catch a lot of games, like basketball, football, tennis and boxing.
What do you like splurging on?
I have a watch or two and though I like fast cars, I don’t own one.
Tell us a little about your training?
If I’m in a fight camp, during off-season, I do a lot of strength and functional movement training. During fight season, I work on my precision and speed.
UFC Fight Night, on January 31, at 6.30 AM, on Sony ESPN