For Robbie Lawler, the grind of four fights in a calendar year was one that took its toll both on his body and mind.
Lawler, the reigning UFC welterweight champion, went 3-1 in 2014, including a victory over Johny Hendricks to win the title. He also bested Matt Brown and Jake Ellenberger, losing only to Hendricks via decision.
After the grind, his team and coaches – along with UFC officials – advised “Ruthless” to take time off and recover.
“My body is going to be fresher,” said Lawler, during a recent interview with MMAFighting.com. “I’m going to be mentally fresher. It was busy (in 2014). It was a lot of training, but I think I’m gonna be fresher.
“Now I have time to work on stuff. I can work on my strength, I can work on my speed, I can work on my technique.”
Lawler (25-10) doesn’t have an opponent lined up for his first title defense, as the division is in sort of a jumbled mess at the moment. Officials were set to make Lawler-Hendricks a trilogy, but the former champion decided to take a fight with Brown instead of waiting.
Rory MacDonald was expected to be the No. 1 contender, but he’ll now meet Hector Lombard. Lawler and Lombard are training partners in Florida at American Top Team, but they are not against competing vs. one another.
“We’ll cross that path when we need to,” he said. “There’s no sense in talking about something that might not happen. We’ll talk to all the trainers if we need to and just take care of it, if it comes up. But right now, that’s not an issue.”