In 2016, Robbie Lawler put his UFC welterweight title on the line against Carlos Condit. The two warriors pushed each other to the limit in one of the greatest fights of all time.
Lawler walked away with a split-decision victory, but it was a disputed result and still is four years later. theScore's Nick Baldwin revisits the instant classic in hopes of putting the debate to rest.
Event: UFC 195
Date: Jan. 2, 2016
Location: Las Vegas
Official result: Robbie Lawler def. Carlos Condit via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Round 1: Lawler pressed the action early and was first to land a punch. But Condit got the better of the striking exchanges overall, especially in the second half of the round. He briefly dropped the champion with a left hand and attacked Lawler in the clinch. Lawler landed a few solid shots of his own, but his offense all but disappeared in the last two minutes of the frame. Condit stayed busier and used several kicks to keep his opponent at bay. theScore gives the round to Condit, 10-9.
Round 2: Condit took over early, landing a left hand, a knee, and several leg kicks. Lawler fired back with a huge shot that grazed the challenger. Condit went back to the leg kicks, also landing a partially blocked head kick. There was a major momentum shift midway through the frame, as Lawler landed a left and dropped Condit with a huge overhand right. Lawler got in some ground-and-pound before Condit tied him up and the fight returned to the feet. Condit landed some solid leg kicks and Lawler scored a solid combination to end the round, but neither landed anything too damaging. theScore gives the round to Lawler, 10-9.
Round 3: The two welterweights immediately resumed the non-stop action at the start of the third round. Condit continued to use a variety of kicks, which proved to be his best weapons through the first 15 minutes of the fight. Lawler tagged Condit with a big punch and rushed forward, but Condit landed a clean flying knee. After they separated, Lawler landed a solid head kick and a right elbow that seemed to daze the challenger. Condit was the one moving forward and throwing at a higher rate, but he was missing a lot. Though "The Natural Born Killer" did score a right hand and traded leg kicks with the champ, Lawler was lighter on his feet, allowing him to avoid much of Condit's offense. Condit got Lawler in the clinch and landed two solid knees to the body, but Lawler landed a right hook and was ultimately the one making his shots count. theScore gives the round to Lawler, 10-9.
Round 4: Condit landed a couple of punches and a devastating leg kick that threw Lawler off balance. "Ruthless" then came inside and found a home for his left hand. Lawler pressed the challenger up against the fence and landed a solid punch, but Condit fired back with two straights that landed flush. Condit landed two knees to Lawler's head and followed up with several leg kicks before Lawler tagged him with a right. With under two minutes left in the round, Condit upped his pace, apparently noticing the frame was close. He landed kick after kick and then stunned Lawler in an exchange. Condit walked forward and attacked the titleholder with body kicks, punches, knees, and body shots. Condit didn't hurt Lawler too badly, but his late frenzy left no doubt as to who should take with the round. theScore gives the round to Condit, 10-9.
Round 5: Lawler was aggressive to start the fifth, swinging wild punches. He walked into a few short shots from Condit, but he then unloaded on the challenger after stunning him with an overhand right. Condit soon began to take over the round, however, landing several leg kicks and a few elbows. He found openings for a few solid punches and ended his attack with a heavy body kick. Similar to the third round, Condit was the one moving forward, but this time he was landing enough to override Lawler's powerful shots.
With 90 seconds left in the fight, Lawler knew he needed to steal the round if he wanted to keep his belt. "Ruthless" suddenly went into killer mode, scoring huge punches and hurting Condit up against the fence. Lawler teed off on the challenger in the final minute, attacking with enormous blows. Condit demonstrated his amazing chin, surviving shots that would've put most fighters out cold. But that wouldn't win him the round. Lawler ultimately came closest to finishing the fight; though Condit controlled the first half, the champ did enough late to secure the round and the fight. theScore gives the round to Lawler, 10-9.
theScore's scorecard: 48-47 Lawler
This will always be one of the most contested title fights in UFC history - it truly could've gone either way. I do think the judges made the right call, but would I have been disappointed if Condit got the nod? Not at all.
This was an especially difficult bout to score. Lawler landed the harder shots, but Condit was consistently more active. Damage is the most important component for winning rounds, but it's not unreasonable to think Condit's volume should've been enough. After all, he landed 176 significant strikes to Lawler's 92.
For me, the fight came down to the third round, which I imagine was the swing frame for a lot of people. I'm confident in my scores for the other four rounds, but either fighter could have legitimately claimed the third.
At the end of the day, Lawler won, and I think it's a fair scorecard. Either way, both fighters should be praised for producing an instant classic.