PRESS RELEASE – UFC on Saturday announced that the classic 2015 fight between welterweights Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame ‘Fight Wing’ as a part of the class of 2023. The 2023 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 6, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The event will be streamed live an exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS.
“The fight between Robbie Lawler and Rory McDonald at UFC 189 was one of the most exciting fights in UFC history,” UFC President Dana White said. “This was an absolute war and a complete display of heart, grit, determination, and the will to win from both athletes. This five-round classic will always be remembered as one of the best and I can’t wait to induct this fight into the UFC Hall of Fame thissummer.”
How Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 went down
As the co-main event of UFC 189: MENDES vs. McGREGOR, which took place on July 11, 2015, at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, both Lawler and MacDonald entered the event on three-fight winning streaks.
Lawler entered the Octagon as UFC welterweight champion with a 25-10 (1 NC) record that included wins over UFC Hall of Famer Frank Trigg, former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, former WEC lightweight champion Scott Smith, and a previous victory over MacDonald in 2013.
Rory came into his rematch against Robbie as the top ranked welterweight contender with an 18-2 record and previous wins over UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn, former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine, former WEC and Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz and Demian Maia.
Both athletes quickly advanced to the center of the Octagon at the opening bell to establish their positions, with MacDonald striking first with a barrage of jabs. Lawler, normally a fast starter, patiently measured Rory during the first round, cautiously matching leg kicks and responding to MacDonald’s jabs and straight right punches. Rory attempted one takedown during the first, with Robbie defending his attempt and countering with a right knee. The first round ended with both fighters exchanging punches.
Lawler took control of the pace early in round two, striking first and checking MacDonald’s leg kicks as the pair circled the center of the Octagon. Rory, connecting on more significant strikes, used his arm reach and leg kicks to stay on the outside of Robbie’s range. Both fighters began to open with multiple combinations midway through the round, opening and pushing forward with each exchange. With one minute left in the round, an exchange from Lawler broke MacDonald’s nose, causing a noticeable flow of blood over his chest. The round ended with one final combination from Robbie, evening the match with one round for each fighter.
Lawler, uncharacteristically patient to this point of the match, continued his strategic approach against Rory in the third, throwing measured strikes, blocking MacDonald’s counters, and throwing periodic leg kicks. Robbie defended Rory’s second takedown attempt in the third, answering with a three-punch combination that opened two additional cuts on MacDonald’s face to accompany his broken nose. With 35 seconds left in the round, MacDonald connected on a right head kick, stunning Lawler, and driving him back to the fence. Rory would take advantage by administering a series of punches, head kicks and a flying knee in his attempt to finish the fight with less than 10 seconds left, but Robbie would survive the round, although the momentum had clearly swung in MacDonald’s favor as he won the frame.
Rory opened the fourth in control as Lawler was not fully recovered from the end of the third. MacDonald connected on another right head kick and straight left punch combination 15 seconds into the round, forcing Robbie to backpedal to the fence as Rory unleashed several punches and two flying knees as Lawler raised his guard to minimize the damage. Robbie repeatedly assured referee John McCarthy that he was fine as MacDonald pushed forward with his attack of punches, head kicks and standing elbows. Lawler, still dazed and not fully recovered, would continue to counter Rory’s advances, with neither fighter, although both heavily bloodied willing to back down as they continue to exchange combinations through the end of a round that was punctuated by a stare down in the middle the of the Octagon.
As both athletes stood for the fifth and final round, the sold-out crowd gave them a standing ovation. Lawler took control of the pace from the bell, connecting with a left hook and right jab to MacDonald’s nose 56 seconds into the round, which sent Rory to the canvas. Robbie would take advantage of the opening and connect with two more punches before McCarthy stopped the fight one minute into the fifth.
The slugfest would leave both athletes bloodied, with Lawler’s lip visibly split in two pieces and MacDonald’s face battered, as well.
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2015 MMAWeekly.com Fight of the Year
The fight won the Fight of the Night performance award and would be acknowledged by MMAWeekly.com, as well as the Fighters Only World MMA Awards, Sherdog.com, MMA Fighting, Bleacher Report, and Wrestling Observer as the “2015 Fight of the Year.”
Lawler won two of his next three fights following this event. Although he lost his title to Woodley in the main event of UFC 201 in July of 2016, he has continued to fight top contenders in the welterweight and middleweight divisions, earning a victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 266 in 2021.
MacDonald would lose his next fight to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in June 2016 before leaving UFC shortly afterwards. He would continue to compete in Bellator and PFL before retiring in 2022.
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