UFC 290 Awards, Including Fairytale Ending Honors for Robbie Lawler

The T-Mobile Arena played host to yet another International Fight Week and major pay-per-view card with UFC 290. With the highly entertaining event now in the books, let’s pay homage to some of the standout performers, both good and bad, from the action-packed evening.

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Oprah Winfrey Everyone Gets Something Award to UFC 290

ufc 290
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Every International Fight Week, the UFC intends to put together a dream team of exciting matchups, star power, and high stakes. Even with high-profile bouts featuring Jack Della Maddalena,  Deveidson Figuerido, and Manel Kape falling out, this year will be considered a huge success on that metric.

There’s no doubt that when we begin to recap MMA in 2023, UFC 290 will be a big part of the conversation. Nine finishes on a 13-fight card including four sub-minute knockouts, a title change in a thrilling co-main event, barnburner decisions, the last stand of a legend, and a shift in the all-time featherweight hierarchy: this event is the perfect example of why the limited nature of the UFC post-fight bonuses needs to be altered.

There was simply too much to rave about in the immediate aftermath. So, let’s just give one big giant trophy to everyone involved and call it a day. 

Fairytale and Happy Ending Award to Robbie Lawler

ufc 290
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve seen the story so many times. A decorated fighter known for biting down on his mouthguard and throwing caution to the wind stands in front of a younger version of himself and Father Time emerges with the win. Robbie Lawler decided that that ending wasn’t good enough for him.

When Lawler was paired with Niko Price in his final UFC fight, the writing was on the wall. As Lawler’s underdog status would imply, his laying on the canvas unconscious was a distinct possibility that many were prepared for as the former champion made his last walk. This was going to be another chance for combat sports to cannibalize the old to feed the young. But at least pitting the two similarly styled welterweights against one another would give Lawler a chance to show why he’s been beloved for so many years.

By knocking out Price in 39 seconds, Lawler got the fairytale ending that has eluded countless fighters before him. He met his man dead center of the cage, put fists to face, and took virtually no damage in the process. And instead of being thrown on the prelims of a random fight card, Lawler got to perform on a featured bout being broadcast on ABC and was treated to a touching video tribute before stepping out of the Octagon for the final time.

Sure, Lawler is far removed from his glory days as welterweight champion but it’s as happy as an ending that could be scripted at this stage. Now let’s hope this retirement doesn’t lead to an underwhelming rebirth that completely invalidates the moment.

Byrd Brain Award to Adalaide Byrd for Continued Incompetence

Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The overwhelming majority of employed people in the world are expected to meet a certain standard of quality in order to maintain their job status. How freeing it must be then to completely disregard this reality and still receive a paycheck. One day Adalaide Byrd might finally let us in on her secrets to this warped version of success.

The longtime Nevada official was up to her usual tricks when submitting her dissenting scorecard in the Dan Hooker and Jalin Turner fight. When 26 out of the 28 media scorecards for the fight awarded a win to Hooker, going in the other direction certainly will raise eyebrows. 

Also Read: 10 Best MMA fighters of all time – From Fedor Emelianenko to Georges St-Pierre

That in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In subjective judging, opinions will vary based on a variety of factors such as vantage points. The problem is that Byrd has made a career of being on the controversial side of scoring while still getting assignments in the highest level of combat sports. 

Unlike Byrd’s atrocious contribution to Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin’s split draw in 2017, at least the deserving fighter wasn’t robbed of a win.

But to be fair, Byrd didn’t submit the most outrageous calculation of 10s and 9s at UFC 290. That honor will go to Ben Cartildge for his 49-46 for Brandon Moreno. 

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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