Former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley created shockwaves in the world of mixed martial arts when he announced that he would be leaving the entertainment world of professional wrestling to pursue a career in the more brutal, and real world of MMA in early 2008.
A former NAIA wrestling champion and silver medalist at the world championships, the thirty two year old father is far from a rookie when it comes to combat athletics. In fact, it was the wrestling foundation that made the transition to mixed martial arts such a smooth one for Lashley.
After months of hard training at the American Top Team, the 260 pound physical specimen made his MMA debut a success when he stopped Joshua Franklin in just :41 seconds by TKO back in December of 2008.
Lashley will face an extremely difficult test in just his second professional bout when he meets up with MMA legend, Ken Shamrock, at the Roy Jones promoted boxing and MMA hybrid event scheduled to take place on March 21st entitiled “March Badness”
In an exclusive interview with MMAMemories, Lashley assured that he is excited about the opportunity to showcase all of the things that he has been working on in the gym against one of the most recognizable fighters in the game. There are quite a few questions left over for Lashley to answer in MMA because of how quickly his debut was finished and the bout with Shamrock will give him the opportunity to show the world that he has truly arrived.
MMAMemories.com: Would you say that the transition from wrestling to mixed martial arts has been fairly easy for you?
Bobby Lashley: It’s been alright. I wouldn’t say that it has been easy because there is still a lot more that I have to learn. I feel like I’ve come along really well. I think a lot of it is all the time I spent in wrestling. It was a lot of hard work and extremely difficult training. We had to train hard and be ready to compete every day. I’ve just taken that same philosophy toward training that I had in wrestling and applied it to mixed martial arts. I think that’s why my training has been going a little smoother than I had expected.
MMAMemories.com: Would you say that the training for wrestling and mixed martial arts are comparable as far as the intensity?
Bobby Lashley: Yeah, but it really depends on what wrestling teams you were on. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on some really good teams during my wrestling days. I wrestled with the Army and my college team went on to win a national championship, so I’ve been privileged to have been part of such good teams where the intensity level for training was really high.
MMAMemories.com: What are your thoughts on your first opponent, Joshua Franklin, looking back on how it all went down?
Bobby Lashley: Actually the kid was really tough. I’m sure that he’s going to fight again. He didn’t really get a chance to showcase his skills, so hopefully in his next fight he can show what he can actually has, and then people may see that he wasn’t that easy of a first fight for me after all.
MMAMemories.com: Were you affected by the pre-fight jitters, or nerves before your first professional bout with Franklin?
Bobby Lashley: I still have to go through a couple different checks, but as far as the nerves go, I felt really comfortable.I try to take away all the good things from that match and it feels really good that I was comfortable and I felt good moving around in there, so I think it went really good.
MMAMemories.com: Your hands looked really good in that fight. Do you enjoy the stand up aspect of MMA?
Bobby Lashley: Oh man, I love it. I absolutely love it. I have some great stand up coaches that have made it really fun for me. I love to just get in there and spar,or hit the bag, I love it. I really just love the boxing aspect of the game. Being able to move around and strike, I absolutely love it. I’m always working on my boxing. Almost every day I work on my boxing.
MMAMemories.com: What are your thoughts on your next opponent, Ken Shamrock, as far as what he has accomplished in the sport?
Bobby Lashley: He’s a legend. Nobody can take away what he does, or the things that he has done for the sport. He’s one of the people that have been on the map from day one. People that have been watching MMA for a while, they know who Ken Shamrock is. He has been a pioneer in the game and he has opened up a lot of doors for us to be able to do what we’re doing right now.
MMAMemories.com: Are you excited about the opportunity to fight such a big name in the sport?
Bobby Lashley: Oh, definitely. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to fight. If I have an opportunity to fight someone, I’m going to take the fight. I’m not a twenty year old kid anymore, so I can’t pick and choose who I fight. The announcement came through that there could be a fight with Ken, and I was all for it. After this fight, I’m not sure who’s next but I’m going to leave the door open. I’m willing to fight anyone right now. Shamrock is a really good one for me to fight so hopefully I can put on a good show for the fans and come away with the victory.
MMAMemories.com: Have you seen his last fight with Ross Clifton , and if so, what were your thoughts on his performance?
Bobby Lashley: Without taking anything away from Ross Clifton, he really wasn’t anywhere close to Shamrock’s caliber. It was what it was. He took him down, submitted him, it was expected. That fight didn’t really impress me but I don’t think Clifton was up to the task.
MMAMemories.com: How are you feeling about your submission defense right now?
Bobby Lashley: Oh yeah. We have a lot of jiu-jitsu black belts down at ATT, so it’s not like when I go in there I won’t be trained and ready for him.
MMAMemories.com: Who are some of the key fighters that you work with at ATT?
Bobby Lashley: Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva is down there and I work with him a lot. We have a bunch of really good light heavyweights like Thiago Silva among others. Then we always have a bunch of top level guys that are always coming through there. There’s a big heavyweight from Louisville, Kentucky that I work with a lot named Ron Sparks. He’s about 300 pounds, and just a really tough guy. I have a lot of training partners at ATT because people are just coming through their all the time.
MMAMemories.com: What has been your main focus in the gym since your win over Joshua Franklin?
Bobby Lashley: I’ve just been focusing on my overall game. I don’t have anything really specific that I focus on. My wrestling, I feel really comfortable with so I’m not going to beat that to death when I have it down pretty well right now. I do go to wrestling practice with the guys and work up against the cage and a lot of different fight specific type stuff, but I feel really good with my wrestling. As far as the jiu-jitsu goes, there are a whole bunch of different black belts down there that I’m always working with. I’m working on escaping different submission holds and different ways to pass the guard. There’s a possibility that I will end up on top in this fight with Shamrock so I’m working on getting back to my feet and different sweeps, things like that. I love the boxing aspect of it, so anytime I can put on those gloves and go out there and box, spar, hit the mitts or anything like that, I’m all for it.
MMAMemories.com: I think that it may throw some people off that you are so enthusiastic about the stand up game when your background has always been wrestling.
Bobby Lashley: To me, it’s just fun. The first time that I really got a good shot in the face it was kind of like an adrenaline rush. I was like ‘OK, I see what this is all about’, and just coming back harder and harder, and just learning and learning.
MMAMemories.com: What are your thoughts on the current king of the heavyweight division, Fedor Emelianenko?
Bobby Lashley: I think the guy is just incredible. I love the way he just battles. That’s the kind of fights that I like to see. I like to see someone that just goes hard. The pace that he sets is incredible. I think that he’s a great fighter.
MMAMemories.com: Would you personally consider him to be the best pound for pound fighter in the business right now?
Bobby Lashley: I’m not going to say that he’s not, but that’s a really hard label to put on someone. There are so many things that people could say to counter whoever you think is the best pound for pound fighter. People will say, look at Mike Brown, who’s just on fire right now, can you say that Fedor’s really better than Mike Brown? You can’t really tell. You have GSP and Anderson Silva. I think that Fedor is an amazing fighter. I think that he’s one of the best.
MMAMemories.com: Do you plan to continue fighting for a long time?
Bobby Lashley: Hopefully. That’s my plan right now. I took a really big step in giving up what I was involved with before MMA, so hopefully everything works out right and I can continue to fight.
MMAMemories.com: What can people expect from Lashley in mixed martial arts in the future?
Bobby Lashley: A championship.
MMAMemories.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.