Former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler recently opened up about why he left his longtime gym at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.

“It was time for me to go. It wasn’t the place for me," Lawler told Mixed Martial Arts reporter Brett Okamoto on the 5ive Rounds Podcast. "I have a lot of friends and buddies still training there but the place wasn’t for me any more and that’s what I have to say about that.”

American Top Team has been one of the most prolific gyms in mixed martial arts but it never produced a champion until Lawler.

Rise of a champion

"Ruthless" Robbie Lawler won the UFC title by defeating then-champion Johny Hendricks via split decision at UFC 181 in December 2014. The fight was a rematch from their initial outing in May 2014. Hendricks won the first bout via unanimous decision.

Seven months later Lawler went on to defend the belt against Rory MacDonald. He won that fight via technical knockout in the fifth round. In January 2016, Lawler defended for a second time. It was a hard fought back and forth war between the champion and challenger, Carlos Condit.

It seemed as if everything was going right for Lawler, and that the credit could be given to the four years spent at American Top Team. After suffering more losses than wins while fighting under the Strikeforce banner, Lawler moved to ATT when his contract was acquired by the UFC and he picked up enough wins to earn a title shot and win the welterweight belt.


Then, in an instant, the champion's fate would change at the hands of his toughest challenge to date, Tyron Woodley. Lawler was knocked out just 2:12 into the fight and the title would change hands. His professional MMA record would now sit at 27 wins, 11 losses, and one no-contest.

Lawler's journey at American Top Team began in 2012.

It lasted until January of this year, just six months after losing his title last summer. The former champion stayed quiet about the situation, not really addressing it when asked by media.

Change in scenery

Lawler now trains at Combat Club in Lantana, Florida. He is a student there under the watchful eye of kickboxing legend Henri Hooft.

On July 8, Lawler will appear in the octagon for the first time since losing his belt. It will be relatively close to a full year when he takes on the equally exciting Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone at UFC 213 in Las Vegas. The fight was originally scheduled for the UFC's mega-card, UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York. That fight never came to fruition, but fans will now get to witness what is on paper one of the most exciting matchups in MMA history.