There was a fleeting moment, back in September of 2016, when we were led to believe that fan favorite welterweights "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone would fight at the landmark UFC 205 in November. Given Lawler and Cerrone's reputations as two of the most consistently entertaining fighters in MMA, news of their planned collision generated immeasurable excitement among the fans. It was a clash of a blood-crazed destroyer and a murderous gunslinger plucked straight out of the Wild West. It was the kind of matchup fans drool over. It was a cause for celebration!
Regrettably, this booking fell through just days after it was announced. Though there was some suggestion this was because Lawler wanted a little more time to recover from his thudding July 2016 knockout loss to Tyron Woodley, we were never really given an official reason why the plan was nixed. All we knew is that the fight was off, and that was a cause for mourning...
From there, Cerrone was booked for a UFC 205 bout with Kelvin Gastelum—which was ultimately also cancelled when Gastelum failed to make weight for the fight. The fan favorite gunslinger then returned to the cage in December, when he knocked out Matt Brown in a typically exciting fight, and then again in January, when he experienced a career-joggling knockout loss of his own at the hands of current welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal.
During the same stretch, we heard almost nothing from Lawler. In early 2017, we learned that he had left his long-time home in American Top Team. Several weeks thereafter, it was discovered that he'd set up shop at Lantana, Florida's Combat Club, where he was working under the tutelage of Henri Hooft and alongside monsters like Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, Rashad Evans and Michael Johnson. When it came to news of his anticipated return to the cage, however, there was radio silence.
On Monday evening, the proverbial ham radio crackled to life, as news broke that Lawler would be returning to the cage at UFC 213 on July 8. His opponent will be the high-kicking, neck-squeezing bandit Cerrone. Just like that, the fight we all celebrated and then lost in September is back on.
News of this fight comes from ESPN's Brett Okamoto, who confirmed the booking with UFC President Dana White.
The implications of this fight, of course, have changed. Though Lawler is in the same boat he was in when it was first announced back in September—having not stepped into the cage since he was knocked out by Woodley—Cowboy is no longer on a red hot win-streak. As such, it looks like less of a top contender bout, and more of an opportunity for two of the division's most proficient purveyors of spectacle to get back to winning ways. The important thing, however, is that this incredible fight is back on.
Yes, this July 8, in the sun-tortured, desert town of Las Vegas, Nevada, "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone are going to try to beat the shit out of each other, and it's going to be beautiful.