Ruthless Robbie Lawler is 36 years old and has been a professional fighter for nearly two decades. He started training when he was 16 and over the past 18 years, Lawler has been is some of the most grueling, bloodiest battles in the history of MMA.
In December 2017, he came up lame in a main-event fight against Rafael dos Anjos and by the end of the fight, Lawler had a torn ACL and a torn meniscus. He could have hung up his gloves for good and no one would have blamed him. He has already been the UFC welterweight champion, been in the Fight of the Year multiple times, and has a legacy of being one of the most exciting and violent fighters in MMA.
“That is what I enjoy, I didn’t know why [the injury] happened or how it happened. I just knew that it was gonna be a blessing. As soon as it happened, I was laid up in my room with my leg elevated, thinking ‘I’m gonna make the best out of this injury.’ That’s what I did. I got back to the grind, started working, didn’t rush anything. Got to spend more time with my family, which was huge. Got to work on other aspects other than just fighting.
“And I got to start from the ground up. Basically, I could barely walk. Then it was just like start building from scratch. How can I get better?”
Some fighters would have gone into a dark place with a UFC comeback weeks to years away. However, Lawler took on the challenge every day. His surgery to repair his knee was in Jan. 10, 2018. The next day, he was able to walk on his own.
Now, less than 14 months after surgery, Lawler is preparing to get back into the Octagon. He will be facing undefeated Olympic wrestler Ben Askren at UFV 235, on March 2, in Las Vegas. Lawler is healthy and feels stronger than he ever was.
Lawler took things step-by-step, not wanting to rush things. First, he learned how to walk on crutches. Despites all of the wild fights he has been in, this was one of the worst injuries of his career. Additionally, this was the first time he blew out his knee.
“The rehab process was slow and tedious, but I just remembered to get back at it and working on straightening my leg, then working on bending it, then getting to the weight-bearing,” according to Lawler.
In the early stages, when he could not walk, Lawler said he relied on a Power Plate, which is a platform that vibrates 25 to 50 times a second. He said he has been using the Power Plate during workouts for nearly a decade and it is used by most teams in the NFL and Division I athletic programs. Lawler did isolated workouts with it, in between physical therapy and stretching.
“You’re getting a lot more work in than you realize, because the vibration kind of forces your muscles to work a lot harder. Just made it easy. I wasn’t very mobile, but I was doing a lot of ISO stuff and just doing holds. And that really helped king of get the ball rolling to get my strength back early on.”
According to Lawler, he had physical therapy three times a week, but sometimes that was not enough for him. He would have sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, go home and do the workout again, up to three times a day.
In May 2018, Lawler began working with Mike Barwis and that is when he took things to the next level. Barwis is a longtime strength and conditioning coach. He currently hosts “American Muscle” on the Discovery Channel and holds a senior advisor position on the New York Mets.
Lawler has been able to observe his body’s strengths and weaknesses, including what may have caused him to tear up his knee. He has been focusing on stability and strengthening his weaknesses. Lawler believes he has accomplished just that.
“My body is stronger that it’s ever been before. I would say I’m a better version of myself. I’ve had room to grow. I’ve just had time to reflect and I’m building. I’m trying to get better in all aspects, not just fighting. I’m trying to learn and trying to develop different parts of my life. That’s what I’ve been doing that past year and that’s what I’ll continue to do it. It’s just evolution and trying to get better in every way.”
By Jeanette Smith
MMA Fighting: After ‘slow and tedious’ rehab, rejuvenated Robbie Lawler is ready to be ‘Ruthless’ again
Image Courtesy of Jamison Hiner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License