Last night at Strikeforce: Miami, Robbie Lawler stood across the cage from an animal in Melvin Manhoef and escaped the jaws of the beast by throwing a hail mary punch that knoced out the Dutch kickboxing powerhouse.
Pulling a page out of Doug Flutie’s book, Lawler threw a prayer of a right hand after taking a pummeling, making the winning score while being on the brink of defeat.
Several leg kicks penetrated Lawler’s defenses, some landing so hard they would shoot Lawler’s own leg high above his own head.
Little offense came from Lawler’s stand point. On the run for a majority of the first round, Lawler seemed to have little to no answer for Manhoef’s aggressive tactics and ferocious striking.
A mixture of punches to the head and body combined with the strongest of muay thai kicks to the mid section and lower extremities was the symphony played by Manhoef as he exhibited some of the most dominating stand-up seen by the Strikeforce promotion.
To the surprise of everyone in attendance and watching on Showtime, Lawler did the impossible. Pulling out a win in the most unexpected of fashions.
After the referee pulled Lawler from Manhoef’s almost lifeless body, the victor limped around the cage in awe of his own performance then was graced by his cornermen, which included former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes.
The irony of the situation is that Miami is the same location Doug Flutie completed his “Miracle in Miami” pass to lift his Boston College Eagles above the Miami Hurricanes way back in 1984. There must be some magic in the air in South Beach because it causes competitors to comeback from almost certain oblivion.
Nearly 26 years later, the essence of will and determination still resonates in Miami, FL and Robbie Lawler made every effort to pull it to within his grasp.
Looking ahead, Lawler is now back on the winning track after losing via submission to current Strikeforce middleweight king Jake Shields. If he is to remain on the winning track there could be a title run in it for him, however, fighters the likes of “Jacare” Souza and Dan Henderson might have a larger stake for title opportunities.
A Henderson-Shields duel is in the process of being confirmed for a date in Spring, so where does this leave Lawler? The speculation is that, given the relatively scarce amount of middleweights Strikeforce has to offer, Lawler is destined to clash with Souza in an effort to determine the next in line to take on the Henderson-Shields winner.
For Manhoef, he’ll continue to be an entertaining sight for MMA and K-1 fans, but will never be a serious contender for the middleweight crown. Given his availability to fight at either middleweight, light-heavyweight and even heavyweight, there would be little surprise in Manhoef being added as a potential opponent to Gegard Mousasi or Mohammed “King Mo” Lawal.
At Strikeforce: Miami, Robbie Lawler went all in and it paid off big. Now is the time where he counts his blessings while Melvin Manhoef continues to count stars.