Two of the best Weltwerweight champions ever, fighting the same opponents and during the same generation and yet somehow, they never crossed paths.
Georges St-Pierre was the reigning Welterweight World Champion in the UFC between 2008 and 2013, succesfully defending his belt 9 times before vacating. Robbie Lawler immediately fought for that belt and while he didn’t win it at the first attempt, he eventually took the crown and made the division his own.
Yet somehow, despite them going back-to-back in the record books as the King of the 170lbs division, they never fought eachother. So, in their prime, who would have won?
Before GSP won the belt in 2008, he had already previously held the title and even competed for it before that. He first competed for the belt back in 2004, being submitted by Matt Hughes. He went away, honed his craft and became an ultimate wrestling machine. He came back and put a five-fight win streak together, including victories against BJ Penn and Sean Sherk before challenging and defeating Matt Hughes in their rematch with a second round TKO. He had a blip in the road immediately after that, losing to Matt Serra in his first defence of the belt. He then toppled Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes again to earn a rematch with Serra, who he defeated with relative ease in the second round. At that point, his reign of dominance began.
‘Rush’ never lost again in his career, earning wins by KO, submission and decision on his way to cementing a legacy worthy of his Hall of Fame entry this year.
Lawler has had a very different path to greatness in his career. ‘Ruthless’ has a record of 28-14-1 which on paper is not very impressive. A host of big name wins on his record doesn’t make up for the L’s he’s taken but it’s more the style of fighter he became throughout his career that has him written in MMA folklore.
His size was always an advantage in the 170lbs division, considering he spent a large portion of his career at Middleweight. His aggression and physicality mean he could hang with anyone, plus his granite chin saw him go through some of the greatest wars in recent memory. His fight with Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 is widely considered as one of the greatest fights in history, while he also battled with Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks either side of that to 5 round decision wins.
Both men were phenomenal in all aspects of mixed martial arts. We already mentioned that GSP went away and honed his craft to become the ultimate wrestling machine, but Lawler had a wrestling background to begin with. Both men also had a fantastic striking game, with GSP more focused on technique while ‘Ruthless’ was more about power and durability.
If the fight had happened, it would have been a traditional Robbie Lawler war. ‘Rush’ would have dominated the early exchanges, using his superior footwork to his advantage. As the fight wore on though, Lawler would start to dictate the pace and press forward. He’d eventually land big strikes and I expect GSP would be able to eat them in the same way he endured Johny Hendricks’ heavy hands.
In a fight that would without a doubt end with both men bloodied and battered, I think that Georges St-Pierre’s big-fight record would come into play. He knows how to get the wins in these types of fights, while Lawler is sometimes more focused on the entertainment factor than actually securing the victory.
For this reason, I expect GSP would get the win in via Unanimous decision in a tight affair.