One issue that seems to be prevalent with fans of Mixed Martial Arts is that allowing a professional wrestler to enter the world of MMA might affect the legitimacy of the sport or the other fighters in it. Lashley’s response is simple, to the point, and has facts to back it up. "If you have Brock Lesnar fighting on a card in the main event and it draws 1.3 million PPV buys, then the person that’s fighting first, second, or third on that card is gonna get a bigger fan base having someone like that on the card."
As a former three-time National Amateur Wrestling Champion and a two-time NAIA Champion, Bobby Lashley’s wrestling skills have always been his strongest asset in the pro wrestling ring and in his MMA bouts. Lashley realizes he still has room for improvement, however. "My mindset right now is that I’m trying to be more of a complete fighter. I can always go back to my go-to, and my go-to is going to be my wrestling," he explained, "but I’m training really hard on my stand-up, using my hands a lot more, and that’s what I want to do because it’s MMA but there’s still a side of entertainment involved and I think the side of entertainment is seeing someone get knocked out".
It appears that Lashley’s striking game will be the central focus of his training for his bout against Mike Cook on May 15th. Regarding Bob Sapp, Lashley said, "I’m going to have to avoid a couple of those big looping punches that he has and I’m going to have to work to get him into a position where I can take him out."
In the event that Bobby Lashley does just that and defeats Sapp in decisive fashion, he’s not naive to think it will silence the critics once and for all. "I could beat everybody in the world and they would still have a reason to dislike me. Beating Bob Sapp, worst case scenario, is I hope I can take some of his Japanese thunder and I can go out to Japan and make the kind of money he was making out there."
So, how does Total Nonstop Action – the second largest wrestling company in the country – play apart in all this? Bobby Lashley assures MMA fans that he is 100 percent dedicated to fighting right now, but also makes a promise to the wrestling fans that he owes a big part of his success. "I won’t let down the wrestling fans at all. I started something with TNA and I intend to finish what I’ve started." There is no contract signed at this point with TNA, but Lashley does state that he is leaning toward signing with the growing company.
It’s clear listening to Bobby Lashley speak on his career that true passion for both pro wrestling and mixed martial arts is the key ingredient that drives both his training and his dedication to entertaining the fans. Making a name for yourself in professional wrestling and MMA independently is more often than not a lifetime chore and presents its own unique hurdles and hazards. To simultaneously work in both fields, however, can look like an attempt to scale Mt. Everest, although in this case it happens to be seated on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Bobby Lashley sees it as a challenge. A challenge that is knowingly difficult, yet attainable, and the world has a ringside seat. Whether or not Lashley’s success as a fighter continues to blossom will be something we find out in the very near future, but on the off-chance it does not, I offered him a consolation prize:
"Bobby, you can always swing that last knockout punch in my direction if you want".
"Let’s sign it up for around August."
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