There has been much speculation as to how Bobby Lashley would fare in the very real fighting world of mixed martial arts when the former NAIA wrestling champion made the announcement that he would be joining the sport in early 2008 but the former WWE superstar turned professional fighter showed the world that he is taking this MMA thing seriously when he made his professional debut a succesful one. In December of 2008 Lashley made the jump into mixed martial arts official when it took him all of :41 seconds to dispatch of Joshua Franklin at the MFA: There Will Be Blood event.
As impressive as the 260 pound powerhouse was in stopping his first opponent in less than one minute, the quick ending to the fight left many unanswered questions for Lashley from his sceptics and self admittedly, himself. In an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com, the rising heavyweight star assured that there are some questions about his fighting potential that even he would like to know the answers to. The thirty two year old Colorado native may very well get his chance to have some of those questions answered in his next bout.
Lashley will face a serious test at this early stage of his career when he takes on UFC Hall of Famer and legend of the game, Ken Shamrock. The two ares scheduled to meet at the Roy Jones promoted boxing/MMA show entitled “March Badness” that will be taking place in Pensacola, Florida on March 21st. The challenge against the seasoned and battle tested Shamrock is one that the up and coming heavyweight welcomes with open arms.
As a matter of fact, Lashley confirmed that he will be welcoming any fight against tough opposition with open arms from this point forth. He has put in the time training with one of the very best camps in the business and feels like it’s sink or swim in this game, he wants to see what he can do. Simply put, Lashley is ready for anyone.
Cory Brady for FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Were you happy or disappointed at how quickly your MMA debut with Joshua Franklin ended?
Bobby Lashley: A little bit of both. I was happy because I was able to get in there and come away unscathed. I also wanted to get in there and see how it would feel. Everything went really good and I think it was a good thing.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: You were only able to test yourself for seconds on the feet in your professional debut, so you’ve had a lot more time to gauge your stand up ability while sparring down at the American Top Team. How do you normally do in your sparring sessions down at ATT?
Bobby Lashley: We’ve got a bunch of really good strikers down at ATT. I feel like I do really well with most of them. You can tell that they believe in my striking ability because when they get together for their striking sessions, most of the time they’ll give me a call, like ‘Hey Bobby, come spar with us’. If they didn’t feel confident about me being up there and sparring with them, they wouldn’t call me, so I feel really comfortable with them.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Do you feel like you’re experience in wrestling has made you more comfortable while standing to some degree?
Bobby Lashley: What I came up with, is if someone attacks me, and they get under my legs, I can defend after the takedown attempt. Before, in wrestling, I was always worried about reacting right when the guy came in. I would be looking to defend before he got there. Now, in MMA, I have about nineteen years of wrestling experience. If someone attacks my legs, I can defend it after they come in. So now I can be completely comfortable standing up and just straight boxing without fear.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How do you feel about facing someone as experienced and battle tested as Shamrock?
Bobby Lashley: It’s going to be an honor to fight him. He’s a tremendously experienced opponent. He’s had a lot of experience during the time he’s been fighting. I just have to know that he’s going to be coming with everything. He has a game plan.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How do you feel you match up with Shamrock?
Bobby Lashley: I think that it’s going to be a really good fight. I don’t know what his game plan is going to be, but my game plan is, I’m going to attack. I’m bigger than him and I’m stronger than him, but he’s got a ton of experience. I’m not going to go out there and just expect to finish him really fast because he’s a master of the game. He’s “The World’s Most Dangerous Man.” I’m going to go out there and just brawl, and I’m going to see if he’s ready to brawl.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What are some of the problems that you feel Ken could present for you?
Bobby Lashley:I know that he’s really good with the leg locks so I’ll be looking for those. Basically I’m just going to be training to not fall into any of his traps. As far as me being able to take him down, I feel really good with my takedowns so I don’t see that being any kind of problem. As far as the stand up goes, I love standing up so I’m ready for that.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Do you have any kind of preference as to where the fight ends up?
Bobby Lashley: If he wants to stand up and brawl, we can stand up and brawl. If he want to go to the mat, I’m going to be comfortable down there as well. It’s his choosing.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What would be the absolute perfect ending for you in this bout with Shamrock?
Bobby Lashley: Well, I’d really like to stand up with him. If I could stand up with him and knock him down and knock him out, that would my my ideal way to win. Then again, I’d really like to go through the first round with him, maybe trade some blows, feel what he has and let him feel what I have, and then I want to take him down. I’d really like to work with him for a bit on the ground so people can see what I have and they won’t be wondering how well I will do if a fight goes to the mat. I want to show some people, the critics and the fans, that I can handle myself on the ground as well as on the feet. I’m not going to fall for any old submission he throws on me. Then I’d like to get the fight back on the feet and knock him out.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Has your contract with the American Fight League expired? Are you a free agent at this point?
Bobby Lashley: I’m not really a free agent. The guys at the AFL have treated me really well. They give me an opportunity to fight whenever there is a fight. I still have a couple of more months with the AFL and I really hope something pans out with them so I can end up fighting on an AFL card. A lot of different fighters like to bad mouth different organizations that pop up, but if you look at the fight scene, there’s hundreds and hundreds of guys that want to fight. Just at our gym alone, we have about sixty to seventy fighters that are always looking for a fight. Whenever a new organization pops up, I’m praying that it works out for them because there is no shortage of guys that want to fight.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What are your thoughts on Strikeforce? Would you consider fighting for them at some point down the line?
Bobby Lashley:Definitely. I would fight for Strikeforce, XFC, PFC, any of those organizations I would fight for. I’m open right now. I’m ready to fight. Anything that comes my way, I’m ready for it.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How interested are you in fighting for the UFC at some point in your career?
Bobby Lashley: I would definitely fight for the UFC. Everyone wants to make it to the UFC. That’s just the procedure in this business. It’s getting to the point now where you tell people that you’re going to fight MMA and they don’t equate MMA with fighting, the UFC is how they understand the sport. I would definitely like to make it to the UFC someday, but you have to earn your stripes. I don’t want to go over to the UFC just because of my name, I want to prove myself first. So if I get a few fights under my belt and I prove that I have what it takes to hang with the big boys, then open up the door and let me in.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What are your thoughts on the UFC’s two current heavyweight champions, first of all, Frank Mir?
Bobby Lashley:Frank is really tough. I like his personality. I don’t really know him personally but I kind of like his personality. He’s very, very dangerous. You saw that in his first fight with Brock Lesnar. I also think that a lot of people under estimate him. People were under estimating him until his last fight when he knocked out Nogueira and people were saying ‘Oh wait, this guy has stand up too?’. I think that Frank is a very dangerous person.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: And what about another former WWE wrestler, Brock Lesnar?
Bobby Lashley: I think Brock is great. I really do. A lot of people give Brock a hard time but Brock is making people believers. Brock is proving himself, and he’s going to continue to prove himself. It kind of sucks that it has to be that way. He’s a former professional wrestler like myself and he was blessed with a lot of opportunities and that’s probably the reason that he’s in the position that he’s in now. He’s going to keep showing people that he’s the real deal. They can keep throwing people at him as tests, but he’s going to keep taking them out.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So do you see Brock getting a little revenge in his upcoming unification bout against Frank Mir?
Bobby Lashley: I hate having to pick that fight. If I had to make a pick I would have to say that it could possibly be Brock. I mean Mir’s a big guy too, but Brock is just so big and strong. Mir is going to have a lot to work with.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Bobby Lashley: I always want to thank American Top Team. They are such a great organization and there are some absolutely fabulous people there to work with. I want to thank Champion Nutrition. They supply all of the supplements that I need to keep me going.