UFC 214 results, highlights: Robbie Lawler outpoints Donald Cerrone in all-out slugfest

After a string of four straight five-round brawls and a first-round knockout loss which cost him his welterweight title, Robbie Lawler was one day shy of a full year off from fighting. The former champion proved on Saturday the rest did him good.

Lawler (28-11) jumped all over veteran Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in a wild opening round and finished strong down the stretch to earn a unanimous decision win (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California.

The victory successfully put Lawler's KO title loss to Tyron Woodley behind him in an entertaining duel mostly fought at close range, as both Lawler and Cerrone enjoyed sustained swings in momentum.

"It was up in the air. I thought I won the first, he won the second and I was leaving [the fight] up to the third round," Lawler said.

Cerrone (32-9) has long been known as a slow starter and Lawler, 35, wasted no time in attacking to open Round 1 by swarming him with punches from the clinch. Using his left hand to hold Cerrone's head, Lawler scored repeatedly with right hands and knees to the body.

"I [wanted] get in there and push him around and try to beat him up," Lawler said. "He was resilient, I wasn't able to push him around. He's a tough opponent. He's tough as hell."

Cerrone, 34, rallied late in Round 1 to steady himself and begin to score with knees on the inside. A late takedown from "Cowboy" proved huge to change the momentum as he began to land punches from top position before the round closed.

The momentum stayed with Cerrone throughout the entire second round as he outlanded Lawler 29-3 in total strikes and kept him off balance with movement and well-timed counters. Lawler looked a step slow throughout the five minutes and appeared content to save his energy for the final round after doing his best to try and stop Cerrone early.

In the end, Lawler had enough in the tank to outwork Cerrone in Round 3. Although he slightly outlanded "Cowboy," 30-29, Lawler was the aggressor throughout and routinely had him backpedaling.

Lawler refused to talk about his standing within the title picture after the fight and instead dedicated his win to former UFC champion Matt Hughes, who is recovering from a car accident that left him in a coma last month.

"I want to dedicate this fight to Matt Hughes, who is fighting a lot harder than I am right now. This is for you buddy," Lawler said.

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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