In 2013, Robbie Lawler was one of the year’s top stories, and the punishing welterweight could end 2014 in memorable fashion once again.

When the 32 year-old returned to the UFC last year, few observers believed at the time that the veteran fighter was set to become one of the promotion’s top 170’ers. But, thanks to stoppage wins over Josh Kosheck and Bobby Voelker, and a decision win over Rory MacDonald, the former middleweight was tapped to fight Johny Hendricks this past March.

Now, although Lawler came up short in his bid to secure the welterweight title, and lost by  decision, “Ruthless” hasn’t let up. Lawler has gone on to to defeat notable contenders in Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown, and has been booked for a rematch with Hendricks on December 6th. For a guy that ended his Strikeforce run having gone 1-3 since 2010, things have certainly turned around for him in the UFC’s welterweight division.

Lawler recently spoke with about his upcoming title fight, and while discussing what’s behind his recent success, he stated:

“I’m just at the right place at the right time,” Lawler said. “I’m older now, I know how to train, I know how to take care of my body and I have really good coaches and training partners around me to make sure I’m peaking at the right time and they’re not banging me around and getting me beat up. It’s a team effort. It’s not just me out there, that’s for sure.”

“I was very excited to come back,” Lawler said while discussing his win over Koscheck. “I was fighting against a guy who was one of the top fighters in the UFC at 170, a title contender, and I was excited to be back in the UFC and on the big stage again, and it was my moment to showcase who I was as a person that day, not who I was a year ago, the year before that, or ten years before that. It was everything clicking at the right time and me being excited and seizing the moment.”

Everyone has always known that Lawler can knock any man silly with just one shot, but now it seems clear that he’s more well rounded, prepared and dangerous than ever.

Now it will be interesting to see if Lawler can complete the amazing comeback story, and defeat Hendricks at UFC 181. The champion hasn’t fought since he decisioned Lawler in March, and was sidelined after having bicep surgery.

While most people likely believe “Bigg Rigg” will still be holding the belt as 2015 begins, no one should be counting Lawler out, especially when you consider how close their first encounter was.

UFC 181 will be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, and will also feature lightweight champ Anthony Pettis taking on Gilbert Melendez.