Robbie Lawlor must feel like he is in a bad game of scrabble, as his opponent at the UFC on FOX 8 card scheduled for July 27th has changed from Tarec Saffiedine to Siyar Bahadurzada due to an injury suffered by Saffiedine in training. Lawlor will likely be installed as the favorite by a good bit when the lines are produced at the sportbooks.
It will be a fight between two guys with KO power, as both men have a well earned reputation for putting people to sleep with their fists, so that fight will have that tension as both fighters can finish the fight at any time. Lawlor will be favored in the fight for a whole series of reasons.
Bahadurzada was on a scorching seven fight winning streak when he lost a decision to Dong Hyun Kim. Kim was able to use his size to force a grappling match and avoid a striking game. Lawlor is unlikely to seek the ground, but he will be bigger and longer than Bahadurzuda and could potentially exploit that advantage in tie ups, especially along the cage. Bahadurzuda is known for his aggression, so Lawlor may be looking to slow him down, and the size advantage will help.
Bahadurzuda somewhat negates Lawlor’s experience, as he has been fighting for 10 years and has just a handful less fights than Lawlor, but Lawlor’s evolution as a fighter with huge power has been greater over the years. Lawlor has stayed safe against many of the headhunter types, including massive striker Melvin Manhoef, who Lawlor eventually knocked out. Lawlor has the option of slowing the pace down and using his command of the ring and his lateral movement to frustrate his opponent, setting him up for the killing blow.
Lawlor is on a trajectory for the top of the weight division, and this is only his second fight since his return. He could underestimate and look past Bahadurzuda, but Lawlor has a solid team around him and he should be clear on the final goal – you can’t get to a title shot unless you are winning.
Bahadurzuda by stepping in on short notice has likely earned himself a return even if he loses. Though he is good, he has never beaten anyone of Lawlor’s caliber, and he is likely to leave with a loss.