Just a few weeks removed from his final appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale, Justin Lawrence is preparing for his next fight.
Lawrence, a Pacific High School graduate, will take on Max Holloway as part of UFC 150 on Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.
The fight between Lawrence and Holloway in the 145-pound featherweight division will be a part of the pay-per-view lineup.
Lawrence, 22 years of age, made his UFC debut on the main card of The Ultimate Fighter 15 finale June 1 in Las Vegas against fellow cast mate John Cofer.
Lawrence (4-0) won by knockout due to a head kick in the opening seconds of the third round.
The performance earned both participants Fight of the Night honors, with Lawrence also earning a Knockout of the Night bonus.
Lawrence was one of the favorites to win “TUF” but was upset by the eventual winner Michael Chiesa in the quarterfinals.
Though Lawrence did not win the show, UFC President Dana White decided to sign all 16 cast members to exclusive UFC contracts.
Lawrence holds a notable victory over James Krause to earn his way into The Ultimate Fighter house, although that bout was a one-rounder and doesn’t count on the fighters’ official records.
Holloway (5-1) is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster at 20 years of age.
Hailing from Hawaii, Holloway is coming off a dominant unanimous decision win over Pat Schilling in early June at The Ultimate Fighter live finale.
Holloway suffered his only career defeat in February at the hands of highly touted prospect Dustin Poirier at UFC 143.
Reports on Holloway are that he has the ability to incorporate a wide array of flying and spinning kicks, knees and elbows into his striking game.
Since the age of 6, Lawrence has been coached by his step father, Benny Voyles, who owns and operates 21st Century Martial Arts.
Lawrence, a former all-state wrestler at Pacific High School along with a standout running back and linebacker on the football field, has worked on his fighting for nearly his entire life.
“Justin’s hard work has paid off. Anybody can do anything if they want something bad enough,” Voyles said. “Justin grew up like anyone else, but when other kids were out getting in trouble, he was out running hills. It’s hard when your buddies go out and you go to bed. Right now, it’s paying off for him.”
There will be a total of eight fights on the card for UFC 150.
In the main event, UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson puts his belt on the line against the man he took it from, Frankie Edgar.
“His goal is to be the best in the world. He wants to show that a local kid from a small town can make it big,” Voyles said. “Justin hasn’t done anything until he becomes world champion.”
Voyles has owned and operated 21st Century Self Defense in Pacific since 1995. He’s trained a number of top fighters, including Lawrence, his younger son, Dalton Voyles, and his younger daughter, Demi Voyles.
“We’ve won 35 national titles in the last five years. Safety always comes first. We have the nicest group of people here. When they get in that ring, they turn on a switch.” Voyles said. “We have rules here that our fighters need to follow. You need to keep a C average at school or you’ll be put on probation. If you disrespect your parents, I’ll kick you out of my gym. Justin lived by those rules. He’s a kid who never gets in trouble. He’s never beat up anyone outside of a gym. He’s a laid back person.”
Lawrence is an eight-time kickboxing world champion and a two-time golden gloves champion. He holds a black belt in martial arts.
He’s had four professional fights and over 150 amateur fights in the boxing, kickboxing and martial arts ranks.
In the mixed martial arts ring, Lawrence can do it all.
“Justin is a great stand up fighter. He can fight free style and is a great jiu-jitsu fighter,” said Voyles, who himself was a professional boxer and kickboxer. “Justin is a stud on the ground. When he’s fighting right, Justin is unbeatable on his feet. He’s explosive and fast — speed kills.”