Robbie Lawler is a decorated MMA star and a much-loved fighter, and with a successful 20-year career and a solid 29-15-0 record, the "Ruthless" is still enjoying the grind. Case in point: On July 3, at UFC 276, he faces Bryan Barberena, an opponent seven years his junior.
Muscle & Fitness sat down with the former UFC Welterweight and EliteXC Middleweight Champion at his home in Parkland, Fla. to find out the secret behind his consistent calm and the motivation to continue fighting at such an elite level and to train.
"Every day is my birthday," Lawler says of his 40th birthday in March. There wasn't a big party, and why should there be? “Every day is Christmas; Every day is sunny. Life is good,” he beams. However, after being an MMA mainstay for more than two decades, what gets him out of bed in the morning? "I enjoy the practice, so I'll do it after I'm done fighting ... I'll figure out something else to participate in, but I'm enjoying the preparation," says Lawler. “I enjoy the discipline of going in, training and doing those things. I take care of myself. I will continue to do so in later stages of my life. That's what I do. I take care of myself, I train, I've been doing this for as long as I can remember, so it's just kind of second nature."
Courtesy of Ryan Loco
For Robbie Lawler, maturity brings balance
Has the MMA legend's perception of success changed since he got into the sport? "Yes, in any case. life and learning. I have more balance now than when I was younger,” he says. "When you're younger, my god, you buckle and just focus on certain things, but as you get older you realize there's more out there than just this or that. [Age] opens your eyes and you start to realize, ok how can I create a bit of balance where I can be a bit more relaxed but more or less take advantage of everything that is out there in life.”
For Lawler, the key to finding that balance was staying consistent while life creates welcome distractions like family. “Time management has never been my forte because [when I was younger] It was easy, it was all about training and when I needed to rest, I rested or just trained all day,” he says. "w I have to figure out how to spend time with my family. I go to the gym and when I'm not working out I'm helping other guys. I have to take care of my dogs, things like that I wasn't paying attention to at all. There's business stuff, interviews, it's definitely exhausting, it can be, but just finding that balance and enjoying it, it's part of the evolution of life I guess. Definitely my life.”
Lawler is admittedly quiet most of the time, but far from being careless, his relaxed demeanor comes from knowing he has all his ducks lined up. "I'm pretty relaxed about things," he shares. "But sometimes you just have to stay on top of things and make sure you're doing what you're supposed to, and even though you're relaxed, you still have deadlines and things to get done during the day." Luckily, the only one has mixed martial arts -Artist who has won three consecutive Fight of the Year awards in both Sherdog and MMA fighting, learned to accept the support of others when it comes to getting things done.
Robbie Lawler has learned to focus more and micromanage less
"I have a lot of nice people around me," he says. “My wife does a great job to make my life easier. My battle team prepares me well for these battles. My management takes care of whatever is needed so I have my parts in place so I can relax. It more or less allows everyone to do what they do to make my life easier while it was before [I tried to] Manage Micro. There's a reason you have all these people around you who specialize in what they do and take a little load off your shoulders."
Courtesy of Kill Cliff
Robbie Lawler is disciplined
With a support system that allows Lawler to give his best in preparing for each fight, the welterweight is able to remain highly self-motivated. "I'm really disciplined and I've always been interested in fitness, so I'm always reading [and asking] how can I get better?" He says. "How can I improve my health just so my body can guess and heal." A little over a week after his fight with Barberena in Las Vegas, Lawler is doing intermittent fasting for 16 to 18 hours a day. "Sometimes you give it up and that makes you stronger and that's what I do. And sometimes it helps to overdo it. It could work; overdoing it or overeating and seeing what your body does with the food so it's just a trick on your body and see what it can do. When it comes to supplements like energy drinks, Lawler says they have to taste good or he finds them a chore. The fighter says Kill Cliff is his brand of choice because it offers clean fuel for energy while still meeting his taste criteria. "And the cool thing about their energy drink is that they use green tea and some ginseng so you don't crash like you do with other energy drinks," he says.
To make sure he can pull off the weight, "Ruthless" will do his first workout of the day sober: he'll run for 35 to 40 minutes or do a hill sprint, then he'll jump straight into a weightlifting session. "It's going to be about 70% to 80% of my max, but super low reps, just getting those muscles on fire and some explosive work," he shares. The UFC star will then do some core and stability work before going home for more cardio. Then he goes to the sauna. Only after that will he eat for the first time that day. Because of his intermittent fasting and high level of physical activity, Lawler says he can be flexible about what he eats, but for now he chooses to keep carbs low for ketogenesis. "Just so I can use all kinds of energy," he says.
Lawler is passionate about testing his body and loves to see the results of his hard work. "My body feels good," he says. "It's just about pushing it hard enough but giving your body a chance to recover." What are Lawler's thoughts on the fight and his opponent with only a few days left until he steps into the octagon? "Bryan comes to fight," he claims. "He has to be very skilled and he's a tough guy, so I expect that guy to come out there and get in my face and try to knock me out. but [laughs] That usually happens in these fights and people try to beat you up and it's my job to stop that from happening.” Undoubtedly, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler is a fun fighter, but don't be fooled, he wants to win. "My style is just entertaining," he says. "That's how I fight, so I don't try to get people excited, that's how I just fight, and if people like it, cool, and if they don't like it, I'm happy with myself and that's the most important thing. "