Robbie Lawler won’t entirely rule out MMA comeback: ‘I definitely have more left in me’

Robbie Lawler isn’t entirely ruling out a comeback to MMA, but he also doesn’t think it’s very likely.

At UFC 290, Lawler orchestrated one of the greatest retirements in MMA history, stopping Niko Price in just 38 seconds in the final bout of his illustrious career. Following the win, Lawler said he felt fantastic all fight week, raising questions with fans whether “Ruthless” was really going to hang up the gloves, but speaking on The MMA Hour on Wednesday, Lawler reiterated that while he could continue fighting, he’s choosing not to.

“I definitely have more left in me, it’s just one of those things where you figure it out. I just can’t do as much as I used to is the thing,” Lawler said. “I can’t train the way I want to train. I’m like the guy who likes to do extra, and now it’s like, hey, just relax, you know how to fight so let’s just get you to the fight. So that’s the hard part for me, because I like to work, I like to workout, I like to lift, I like to do all these things and I have this checklist and the checklist is too much.

“[My body] reacts fine, it’s just that I just can’t do these three-a-days, these four-a-days, these long days,” Lawler continued. “I mean I can, but then I’m out for a day or two and have to rest and then I’m not recovered. So it’s just finding that balance and realizing, hey, you don’t need to do that much. So it’s just those types of things. As you get older you figure out a way to get the job done. It’s more of a mindset. A lot of times you’re working out to make sure you’re ready, and I realized during this camp, ‘Hey, you’re ready. Let’s just be good on that Saturday, that’s it. You only really need to be good on that Saturday. So go through the motions, try to sharpen everything up, but really it only matters how good you are on that Saturday.’”

At 41 years old, Lawler is one of the most beloved and accomplished fighters in UFC history. A former welterweight champion, Lawler also won Fight of the Year three times, and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame for his fight with Rory MacDonald at UFC 189. A professional since the age of 19, fighting is all Lawler has really known as an adult, and while that sort of identity paradigm can prove difficult for many veteran fighters to break away from, Lawler says he doesn’t believe the siren call of the cage will woo him back.

“I’m a fighter, I’m never going to say [never],” Lawler said. “But I’m in a good place. You never know, but I feel good. I feel good and I’m not training. I’m lifting, I’m running, I’m keeping myself in shape, but I don’t see it happening.

“I’m not going to say no, because you never no,” Lawler continued. “I feel great and I know how to train at my old age to be ready for one day, to be sharp for one day. And it’s always fun. That’s actually what I enjoy about sports in general, is how can you be as good as you can for a certain day or a certain bout. I love tweaking things and being a scientist of my own freaking body and trying, ‘OK, you need to have this and you need to do this,’ and figuring out a way to get the job done. … I’m always going to be doing those things, so nothing is really changing in that aspect, it’s just I’m just doing it for the fun of it.”

But while Lawler may be done competing, he’s certainly not done with MMA. With 22 years of experience in the sport, Lawler says he intends to spend his next few years passing on his knowledge to the next generation.

“Just coaching at Kill Cliff FC,” Lawler said when asked what comes next. “A lot of good fighters. I didn’t get where I am today by not getting help from good coaches and good training partners. So it’s just giving them a little technique and a little push here and there, so to make their life a little easier, and to use my knowledge to help others.”

Lawler ended his 22-year career with an overall record of 30-16, with 1 No-Contest.