It’s no grand revelation that Lawler carries the most power in this fight, with several single-strike KO’s to his name. What’s more is that Lawler carries his power throughout the entire fight, with his last two T/KO’s coming in the later rounds. Carlos Condit has never been KO’d, but we saw with Johny Hendricks that you can stifle his forward momentum with heavy counterstrikes. Robbie should find similar success in the stand-up when Carlos goes for his vintage kickboxing combinations. And for what it’s worth, if anybody at welterweight has power and striking acumen to knockout Condit, it’s Lawler.
Speaking of counterstrikes, Robbie’s got some of the best counter-punching in the game. As good as Condit’s chin is, he gets caught on counters quite a bit. He seems to fight on a pseudo “give one to get one” striking philosophy. If Condit doesn’t fight like he did in his Nick Diaz fight, I see his willingness to exchange strikes playing right into Robbie’s hands. Lawler uses a style that baits opponents in but obscures his distance from them. He feints often, and will make his opponents pay with power when they step into his deceptive range. Carlos likes to switch stances when attacking, and could unknowingly leap right into Robbie’s traps. Lawler has pulled out a lot of his wins, namely his T/KO’s, off of counterpunches. He famously knocked out Melvin Manhoef as the Dutchman swarmed for a finish. He’s dropped Rory MacDonald multiple times off of counter-punches and managed to finish him in that instant classic at UFC 189. If Condit overextends, as he often does, it could be a short night for him.
It’s no secret that Condit’s biggest weakness is his wrestling. He manages to create space when put on his back, but he finds himself in that position all too easily, and he resultantly finds himself losing fights. Lawler is no Johny Hendricks, but he does have formidable wrestling skills that can keep Condit on his toes. Lawler should have no problem taking Condit down. What’s more is that the threat of the takedown is all that’s needed to keep Condit honest and stifle his pace, as seen in his fights against Hendricks and Tyron Woodley. Lawler dictating the pace takes away a major part of Condit’s game and lets him play out the fight on his own terms. Also, for what it’s worth, Robbie’s takedown defense is bulletproof, and he counters well off of his sprawl. This aspect of the game is virtually all Lawler.
Both of these men have deep resumes, but Lawler has been facing the top of the welterweight division consistently while Condit has only fought twice since 2014, nursing a knee injury in between fights. Condit took out a game, but likely fading Thiago Alves in his post-injury return fight, but it doesn’t really speak on how well he’d fare against the division’s elite. In fact, Condit’s last three fights against elite welterweights were losses to Woodley, Hendricks, and Georges St. Pierre. On the other hand, Robbie’s faced Rory MacDonald and Johny Hendricks twice, as well as Matt Brown, and is 4-1 for his efforts. There should be big confidence in Robbie going into this fight, as he’s consistently prepared for and faced the division’s elite and found a way to win the majority of the time.
This point might seem weird to make, but it’s simply because it’s a distinction in how both men go about making adjustments in a fight, rather than saying one does and one doesn’t. I also think Robbie’s success against the division’s elite (and Condit’s recent lack thereof) lends to this point. Robbie has become a real student of the game by his own admission and you can see him using different tactics in his fights to gain the edge based on what he’s facing. Against Matt Brown, Robbie started out throwing heaters to no avail, but eventually turned up his striking volume as he was able to make Brown bite on different feints. Against a good jab and kickboxing base in Rory MacDonald, Lawler tended to lay back more and stay on his toes while feeling Rory out. As Rory became more aggressive, Robbie moved forward to take over the fight and make Rory pay on now predictable strikes.
Condit seems more set in how he attacks in fights. He doesn’t seem to adjust his style of attack based on his opponents. He seems to more or less stick to certain types of attacks and then adjust that arsenal based on which attacks are working or not, rather than taking stock of what he’s being presented with and creating his openings like Robbie does. Essentially, I see that Condit jumps on opportunities, while Lawler has learned to create them. I believe this is an important distinction, as the division’s elite are not going to present many openings for Condit to jump on. What’s more, I believe that Condit’s attack style has a predictable rhythm to it, which will make it easier for Robbie to figure out how to avoid and ultimately exploit Condit’s attacks. A supplement to Condit’s attack style is that he’ll throw high risk attacks that a lot of other fighters would be wary to. These often throw off lesser fighters, but given the solid defense Lawler has shown, I think Condit would be amiss to do this, and will only leave himself open to getting countered if he goes this route.
Condit is durable and scrappy, so he’ll be hard to stop. But, I ultimately see this fight swinging Robbie’s way if Condit can’t catch Robbie with a Hail Mary shot.
Prediction: Lawler by Unanimous Decision