UFC 201 head-to-toe breakdown: Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley


Former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. (John Locher/AP)

Two teammates clash in UFC 201’s main event as UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler looks to defend his belt against Tyron Woodley. Lawler has been on a tear since 2014, putting on exciting back-and-forth fights, while Woodley is coming off a year-and-a-half-long layoff but is the most explosive fighter the champion has faced in years.

Here is a head-to-toe breakdown of how the two American Top Team products stack up:


Robbie Lawler (Champion)
Nickname: Ruthless
Fighting out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
Age: 34
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 170 pounds
Reach: 74 inches
Leg reach: 39 inches
Stance: Southpaw
Background: Boxing, wrestling
Team: American Top Team
MMA record: 27-10, 1 no contest (12-4 in the UFC)
Notable wins: Rory Macdonald (2x), Johny Hendricks, Carlos Condit, Matt Brown

Tyron Woodley (No. 3-ranked contender)
Nickname: The Chosen One
Fighting out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
Age: 34
Height: 5-foot-9
Weight: 170 pounds
Reach: 72 inches
Leg reach: 42 inches
Stance: Orthodox
Background: Wrestling
Teams: American Top Team/Roufusport
MMA record: 15-3 (5-2 in the UFC)
Notable wins: Carlos Condit, Kelvin Gastelum, Dong Hyun Kim, Josh Koscheck


The majority of this fight will likely be contested on the feet. Lawler is known for his high-volume style of striking and KO power. He constantly moves forward and has such a quick and powerful job it destroyed Rory Macdonald’s nose. Lawler is primarily a headhunter and mixes his jabs with hooks and straight shots. He is primarily a boxer but also mixes in some kicks.

Ironically, the jab and straight are also two weapons Woodley uses most effectively although he doesn’t utilize combinations too often and tends to be tentative from time to time. While he is more accurate than Lawler (50 per cent striking accuracy versus Lawler’s 44 per cent), he is also less proficient, landing at 2.56 strikes per minute compared to Lawler’s 3.51. Both fighters also absorb more strikes than they land.

An x-factor could be just how battle-worn Lawler has become. He is the more productive striker and the more durable fighter but Woodley has quicker hands and is more explosive. Early in the fight, if Woodley stays sharp and doesn’t let Lawler back him into the cage as he’s been known to do, he can land some sharp blows that can hurt Lawler. The question is whether or not Woodley can capitalize and finish Lawler. He has the power to do so but Lawler will not go down without a fight.


Both men have wrestling in their background and both utilize it in reverse. Lawler has one of the most effective sprawls in the UFC and his 67 per cent takedown defence doesn’t account for how good he is at quickly getting back to his feet. Johny Hendricks exhausted himself trying to take Lawler down in their two fights and other high-level fighters like Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger were quickly shrugged off.

Woodley is a two-time NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler and has such explosive shots he injured Carlos Condit’s knees on a takedown. However, Condit is the only fighter Woodley has taken down in seven Octagon appearances. Overall, he averages 1.9 takedowns per 15 minutes and he may revert to wrestling when he starts feeling pressured by Lawler on the feet.


This is one area that is almost irrelevant. Neither Lawler nor Woodley really ever attempt submissions. Lawler has zero submission attempts in his UFC career and, according to FightMetric, Woodley hasn’t attempted one in more than six years. Stranger things have happened, but don’t count on many grappling exchanges.


Lawler has the cardio edge over Woodley. “Round five Lawler” has become a meme in the MMA community because of his tendency to put on his best performance in the final round of the fight. As the fight progresses, Lawler gets stronger, which can’t be said for Woodley whose muscular frame leads him to fatigue quicker than most fighters in the weight class. Woodley will have to conserve his energy and be efficient or finish Lawler early, while Lawler can drag things out and finish Woodley late.


Lawler is taller and longer while Woodley is shorter and stockier. Lawler is a great size for the 170-pound division — big enough to avoid getting manhandled by larger welterweights but light enough to stay nimble and conserve his energy. Woodley is the more explosive athlete and has a muscular physique. He will have a power advantage early but will also have a smaller gas tank.


Despite being a mild-mannered person outside the octagon, Lawler is one of the most fearsome fighters in the UFC. He lives up to his “Ruthless” moniker. His aggressive striking style combined with his “never say die” attitude makes him a fan favourite and quitting is just not a part of his mindset. Woodley is either hot or cold. At times he appears unsure of himself but at other times he can be just as fierce as Lawler. The long layoff may also play a factor with Woodley’s aggression.


Odds are trending towards the underdog, Woodley. He opened at +200 but has dropped to as low as +120 on some websites, while Lawler opened at -280 but can now be found as low as -145. The action has been one-sided as of late but Lawler may get backers at the last minute. Most bookies also don’t see this fight hitting the scorecards.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.