Could you think of any other that came remotely close to being our "Fight of the Year?" In a bout that was worthy of being the main event of UFC 189, "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler was matched against Rory MacDonald in his first title defense (welterweight division) and second meeting between the two. And this time, it was much more bloody and exciting.
Winning by decision in the first meeting (UFC 167), Lawler stayed patient to start the showdown instead of forcing the action. Or that was until MacDonald landed a beautiful head kick at the half-way point in Round 2 which provoked Lawler to start attacking. However, even though the challenger landed the first big blow, the champion landed a nice one-two, leading to a left hand straight, which drew the first blood of the night as MacDonald's nose started gushing. Smelling blood in the air, literally, Lawler continued to dominate while messing his opponent's face up (and making it the reddest this journalist has ever seen any fighter) until MacDonald stunned him with a leg kick. Seeing an opportunity, the Canadian went after his hurt opponent with a flurry of punches and elbows while Lawler was against the cage. But then the bell rang, and we were heading to a 4th round.
Both fighters looking as though they had just survived a horror movie, the two battered, cut, and primarily red welterweights continued to go straight at each other, specifically MacDonald at Lawler. Starting with a leg kick to the head, the challenger was able to get Lawler on wobbly legs and against the side of the octagon. Like the end of Round 3, he utilized powerful punches and knees to the champion's head so much that referee "Big John" McCarthy continued to inch closer with the intent of putting a stop to the fight.
Though Lawler escaped the attack, MacDonald continued to push forward and hurt the American into the second minute with more, you guessed it, legs kicks to the head. Yet once again, Lawler tip-toed out of trouble and was able to connect with two hard punches, one a right and the other a left, to kill all momentum of his opponent. We were heading to a 5th and final round!
Having to be told by McCarthy to go to their respective corners following the conclusion of Round 4, MacDonald and Lawler came together at the commencement of the final five minutes with the intention of ending the fight immediately. Whereas the challenger's kicks affected Lawler's in the 1st four rounds, they had no effect in the final as the champion continued to push forward with ferocious punches.
Then out of no where, MacDonald fell gracefully on his back due to a straight left by Lawler. The attacker then added two more strikes with the Canadian in a very feeble guard position before the fight was stopped.
With the "edge of your seat" action, the title implications, and gruesome nature, there is NO other 2015 match that can be placed ahead of Robbie Lawler versus Rory MacDonald in regards to "Fight of the Year."
More VAVEL USA's UFC Year in Review...
December 26 - Fight of the Year (Lawler - MacDonald II)
December 27 - Submission of the Year (Rousey - Zingano)
December 28 - Knockout(s) of the Year (Rousey - Holm & Aldo - McGregor)
December 30 - Soaring to the Top (Luke Rockhold, Holly Holm, & Conor McGregor)