Just as fashion trends, slang terms, catchphrases and haircuts are imitated, so too are fighting styles. The maneuvering of T.J. Dillashaw is no exception. His strategy of constant motion and angular attacks to draw title defender Renan Barao into defensive positions that were met with bone-jarring strikes allowed the challenger to strip the title from a man many thought could not be beat.
This fighting style could become a defining characteristic of Team Alpha Male, the organization responsible for molding a promising young fighter into the champion nobody saw coming. Just as the lethal elbow strikes of Jon Jones are being incorporated by more and more UFC fighters, chances are that this style will be analyzed, picked apart and applied by those who get it to those who can learn it.
Just ask Anderson Silva — after he began knocking guys out with his trademark front kick to the jaw, there was a huge spike in successful instances of imitation. As the saying goes: good artists borrow and great artists steal.
The case of Robbie Lawler is a bit different. The tenets of his style that should be imitated are the significant milestones in his arc towards a title shot, rather than particular pieces of his technique. Lawler is a veteran, not one necessarily as grizzled as, say, Dan Henderson but still he is a guy who has been around. His career began with a bang in 2001 and has seen its share of ups and downs. After a series of low points in 2011 and 2012 fighting in Strikeforce, he seemingly came to a crossroads.
This path led him back to the UFC after a significant absence and despite losing a welterweight title challenge to Johny Hendricks at UFC 171. Lawler has the demeanor and confidence of a man who is getting better, stronger and more explosive and has his focus set on UFC gold.
The best thing about Lawler’s style is his longevity and consistent improvement in the face of sweet success that began to turn sour. Lots of fighters fizzle out at this point, but Lawler is intent on taking the hard road, fighting through cliches and waiting patiently for his chance to take a swing for the belt.
Which fighter’s mojo is the best one to borrow from? That depends on your reality and whether or not you want to be a flash in the pan or a rocket across the sky. Whichever one you choose here’s some advice: don’t borrow it — steal it.