Woodley sent Lawler crashing to the mat with a booming right hand, and then finished the deal with big punches from above. “The Chosen One” was fighting for the first time since January, 2015, when he decisioned Kelvin Gastelum.
Lawler had his five fight winning streak snapped with the defeat.
In the co-headliner, Karolina Kowalkiewicz outscored Rose Namajunas on the feet to earn a split decision win.
In another pivotal, welterweight contest, Jake Ellenberger finished Matt Brown with a vicious liver kick in round one.
Here are the complete results for UFC 201, which was hosted by Atlanta’s Philips Arena.
Tyron Woodley def. Robbie Lawler via KO (punches) R1,2:12
Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Rose Namajunas via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Jake Ellenberger def. Matt Brown via TKO (body kick) R1, 1:46
Erik Perez def. Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-28)
Ryan Benoit def. Fredy Serrano via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Nikita Krylov def. Ed Herman via KO (head kick) R2, 0:40
Jorge Masvidal def. Ross Pearson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Anthony Hamilton def. Damian Grabowski via KO (punches) R1, 0:14
Wilson Reis def. Hector Sandoval via submission (rear-naked-choke) R1, 1:49
Michael Graves vs.. Bojan Velickovic declared majority draw (30-27, 28-28, 28-28)
Damien Brown def. Cesar Arzamendia via KO (punches) R1, 2:27