Justin Lawrence was an early favorite to win the Ultimate Fighter Live, but an upset defeat during the tournament on the show knocked him out of contention.
He did however get a second chance as he battled housemate John Cofer at the finale show, and Lawrence certainly made the most of it.
Training out of Team Blackhouse alongside names like UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Lawrence was known for his dangerous and often unorthodox striking, and he showed off those skills on Friday night.
The first and second rounds showed both fighters trying to gain the upper hand as Cofer looked to close the distance on the quicker Lawrence. On the other side, Lawrence was doing his best to stick and move to keep on his feet.
But Lawrence’s coaches noticed he was backing up early as Cofer pursued, and he wasn’t looking for the openings that his opponent laid out for him.
So in the third round, Lawrence capitalized on those mistakes and as he stepped forward with a quick punch combo, Cofer turned the wrong way to avoid the strikes and instead caught a lighting fast right kick straight to the jaw.
Lawrence’s foot landed with a resounding thud on Cofer’s face as he crashed down to the canvas completely knocked out from the kick.
“My coaches told me to quit going straight back at the end of the first, and the second round I started doing it, and I started seeing more openings. Eric Del Fierro and my old man said right high kick right there and I seen it and I threw it,” Lawrence said after the win.
Almost no one on the reality show had their normal trainers around them as they prepared over the last 13-weeks, but for the young 22-year old fighter it was a very odd departure not having his father around, who also serves as his head coach.
“That was the hardest thing in those 13 weeks in that house. Yes, I’m very happy, he’s the man that does all the work behind the scenes,” Lawrence stated about his dad.
While Lawrence didn’t get the chance to win the grand prize of becoming the Ultimate Fighter Live champion, he certainly made his impact felt with an almost assured ‘Knockout of the Night’ performance, sending notice that he’s ready to perform in the Octagon.
“I’m here in the UFC,” said Lawrence. “And I’m here to stay.”