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Luck, skill, plan?

Did Robbie Lawler borrow Scott Smith’s ass-horseshoe this past weekend when he took out Melvin Manhoef, or was it all skill and planning? I initially thought I knew what happened in the Lawler / Manhoef fight: Manhoef was bullying Lawler around and about to finish him off when Lawler came out of nowhere and KO’d Manhoef with his seventh punch of the night – the third to actually land. But Robbie came out afterwards saying it was all part of the plan, and if you were wondering if the plan was to get kicked 15 times before pulling off a hail mary, Matt Hughes would like to clarify things for you:

A lot of people are asking questions on what Robbie’s game plan was and I will say that the game plan wasn’t to get kicked in the leg about 15 times and then knock him out. We wanted to take the fight to the ground, wear him out a little bit and then maybe the second or third round Robbie could stand with him if he wanted, but Melvin did a good job of keeping distance. When Melvin was within takedown range he was always throwing or kicking, the only time he wasn’t throwing or kicking he was just too far away to get ahold of. Every time Robbie flinched like he was going to come towards him, Melvin just backed off. So Robbie never felt comfortable putting a good attempt in to take Melvin down.
With all that was going on I’m glad Robbie was able to keep his head and sit back and think about what he’d seen while watching Melvin’s fights on YouTube. Robbie was able to remember something that was a key to the victory:

#1 Robbie needed to get Melvin in close so he could put his hands on him. He tried playing possum twice before to see if Melvin would come in for the finish.

#2 after watching Melvin fight on YouTube, he realized that Melvin liked to drop his hands when he was going to finish somebody.

So it was a good fight and a good victory for Robbie. Melvin also had a good game plan, throwing a lot of those fast powerful kicks, it’s just that Melvin got caught making the same mistake that he has in the past and Robbie was able to capitalize on it.

You watch the fight again with that 20/20 hindsight and you do start to notice stuff that points towards this possum theory – Lawler’s overly obvious “Ow my neck” thing 2 minutes into the fight and his rope-a-dope style covering up (twice). Even the KO looks like less of a blind swing than Lawler resetting from the kick and throwing a very deliberate overhand right.

Still, this whole possum thing only got started after Manhoef had kicked the fuck out of Lawler’s legs and had him on the run. ‘Sticking to the plan’ would have meant taking Manhoef down. That was Plan A. Since the only thing that happens after “Manhoef drops his hands right before he KOs a bitch” is “That bitch done got knocked out”, I’d say Lawler had to revert to and managed to pull off Plan Z.