Lawler comes full circle at UFC 171

Matt Hughes, former UFC welterweight champion: I don't remember if he was still in high school or if he had graduated, but it was probably 1998 and we were practicing on the old racquetball courts that used to be Pat [Miletich's] gym. I was sparring with Robbie, and I couldn't hit this kid. I was throwing everything at him and he was dodging, weaving and hitting me.

It was one of those things where, here I am trying to be a professional fighter, and I'm sparring against some kid who is eating me up; when you were not having a good sparring day, you did not want to go against Robbie because that was his day. Several times I watched him spar big [former UFC heavyweight champion] Tim Sylvia, and Tim didn't know what to do with him. It was funny watching Robbie cut his angles on Tim. All Tim wanted to do was put Robbie in front of him, but [Robbie] was gone before Tim even threw a punch.

Jens Pulver, former UFC lightweight champion: He was basically my roomie when he graduated high school from the aspect that he was there all the time. He was like my adopted little brother. We used to play 'EA Sports College Football' in season mode. It was rotating, so we had to play against the computer until we met in the championship game. I'd play my game and go to sleep, and then I'd get a knock at 3 in the morning from Rob. ... 'Hey, you've got to play your games.' I'd be like, 'What?'

He used to have this thing for soda. I would call him 'Pop Can Willy,' because there would be cans everywhere. He was a youngster. I remember the first time he had to run the hill ... he took off like a bat out of hell. I mean, 'Whoosh!' ... he took off. I said to somebody, 'Man, how fast is this kid?' Then it turned out he jumped behind some concrete thing to take a rest halfway through.

He was my boy.

Pat Miletich, former UFC welterweight champion and Miletich Fighting Systems trainer: Rob was real young -- 17 or 18 years old. I think I had the [UFC welterweight] title. Matt [Hughes] was working his way up. One night, I didn't have a great training session -- let's put it that way. We were in the locker room afterward, and Matt was saying to me, 'Better keep looking over your shoulder, old man, because I'm coming for you.' I said, 'Oh yeah? Well, you better look over yours, because he's coming for you.' Rob was sitting right behind him, and Matt turned back to me and said, 'Yeah, good point.'

Jeremy Horn, former UFC light heavyweight title contender: Everybody could see it as soon as he fought. You could see his natural demeanor. A lot of guys would be terrified before a fight, and Robbie was just ready. He wasn't timid. He didn't go out there scared.

Cox: He had no fear. I remember when he was still an amateur, Jeremy Horn and some guys were watching video and Robbie goes, 'Who's that?' Jeremy says, 'This is Wanderlei Silva.' He watched him for about 10 seconds and goes, 'He's weak.'

That's how he was. They all go, 'Robbie, Wanderlei is literally eating people. He's crushing everyone in the world.' And Robbie says, 'He's weak,' and walks away.

Miletich: One fight that stands out to me was against Tiki Ghosn [UFC 40, November 2002]. Tiki said some things that made Rob pretty mad. He called him young and pretty. Rob was mad -- trust me. The whole team was mad.

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