Ever since his loss last August to Chad Griggs (10-1), rumors have abounded that Bobby Lashley (5-1) was done with MMA. It became blatantly obvious last week when news broke that he would be fighting again, that those rumors could not be further from the truth.
The first few months during his absence, Lashley found himself in and out of the doctor’s office battling mononucleosis. Now he is feeling better and training full time for his upcoming fight. But for Lashley, having a good showing is more important than just getting the win.
ProMMAnow.com’s (www.prommanow.com) Josh Cross caught up with Lashley to talk about his upcoming fight, which is his first since parting ways with Strikeforce in August 2010. Lashley addressed rumors about him retiring from MMA, his training, how he feels about his last fight, why he left Strikeforce, if he would ever take a fight with former WWE wrestler Batista and if he would ever return to professional wrestling.
PRO MMA NOW: How long have you known about your upcoming fight?
BOBBY LASHLEY: Just this week. I talked to Joe Kelly this week and signed the contract right after we talked.
PRO MMA NOW: Is most of your training going to take place at your gym with you bringing guys in to train with?
BOBBY LASHLEY: Well right now I’m bringing some guys in. I have a great boxing instructor that I’ve been working with and just bringing some guys. If I need some extra sparring I’ve been talking with Josh Barnett so I might go down there and work out with Josh Barnett and his group for a couple weeks and then come back up here and finish up and get ready for the fight.
PRO MMA NOW: How much do you know about your opponent?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I really don’t know very much about him at all. Of course we’ve looked on the Internet to see if we can find something and they don’t really have very much on him except one fight, maybe another fight that he had a few years back. So no, not too much information on him.
PRO MMA NOW: If you knew more about him would that change how you trained for this fight?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I’m just going to be training. It doesn’t really depend on who it is, I’m just going to continually train and get ready for it. I’ve been training this whole time that I had to kind of sit off and sit on my hands this entire time so I’m been lightly working with my boxing instructor getting some Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling drills in but now I’m going to ramp up training a little bit more and really hit it harder. I think it’s more important to have a good showing than just a win.
PRO MMA NOW: You grew up right outside of Kansas City, where this fight is taking place. Are you excited about having a hometown audience and do you think that will be an advantage to you during the fight?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I don’t think that it’s necessarily going to be an advantage because I know that he is from the Kansas City area also, so he is going to have all of his hometown people there. It’s going to be good for me because I went to high school in Junction City which is like two hours away and then I went to college about an hour and a half away so I know I am going to get a lot of support from the back home crowd and from the college crowd. So yeah, it’s going to be fun and I believe that it is really going to help me out in this fight a little bit more.
PRO MMA NOW: Does fighting in front of a hometown audience add any more pressure to you in this fight?
BOBBY LASHLEY: No, because I’m kind of through with the whole pressure thing. My first fight was in front of a major crowd and then after that I’ve been on TV for the rest of the time so I really haven’t had an opportunity to just go out there and have a non-pressured fight. Every fight that I’ve had has been in front of a larger crowd and in front of the media and it has been a whole media circus around it so this one is just going to be another one of those fights. I’m beginning to get used to it so I don’t think it is going to sway the way I fight at all.
PRO MMA NOW: Is there any specific way or technique you want to showcase to end this fight?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I never really pick how it ends. I just want to have a good showing. I mean if it’s a good showing standing up, if it’s a good showing taking it down and getting the ground and pound then that’s the way it’s going to end. I really don’t care how it’s going to end. I just want to end in a victory on my behalf.
PRO MMA NOW: In the future, where do you see yourself or want to see yourself in the sport?
BOBBY LASHLEY: Yeah, I have a goal of making it up to the top. You know there are several different organizations out there that have some great champions and some great fighters in there across the board whether it be Japan, whether it be the UFC. It really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be able to prove myself worthy to make it into one of those high caliber matches and become victorious. So of course being a heavyweight fighter I want to make it up to the top so it’s going to require a lot of training and a lot of fight experience. I just want to get out there. This Titan organization, they have given me the opportunity to possibly do several fights with them and really get that ring time in there and get some good quality opponents. So hopefully I’ll be able to fight with them pretty extensively, maybe even every other month, until I do get that big match that I’m looking for.
PRO MMA NOW: Since your last fight nearly six months ago, there have been rumors that you had retired from MMA. Do you know why those rumors might have gotten started?
BOBBY LASHLEY: You know I think that there are a lot of haters out there and they just want to hate for whatever reason they want to. After that fight I knew the problems. I think I lost the match. I didn’t get beat. If you watch the match I mean I completely controlled and had completely taken care of this guy and he runs around like he just won the world title, throwing his hands up and how he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. B.S. I think he’s garbage. I take that back. I’m a little upset about that but I think it was just garbage, the whole situation was garbage. Since then I mean I’ve been going through a lot of stuff because I had a bit of mono so I was having to get that out of my system and rehab my body so that I feel a lot better. I think a lot of people just thought that I was going to be kind of like those one hit wonders, fight until you lose and then quit. That’s not me man. If I’m a part of the organization, winning and losing is part of fighting, so I’m here to stay. I’m going to be fighting for a while now.
PRO MMA NOW: Can you talk about what you’ve been doing in the six months since your last fight?
BOBBY LASHLEY: The first few months when I came back it was in the doctors clinic every other week giving blood work and resting because I couldn’t really do a lot with the condition I was in, so it was just a lot of hospital work and seeing the doctor and getting everything cleared up. I had a big battle with allergies and all kinds of different things so the first few months I was dealing with that. At that time I was just watching video and watching tape and trying to get that part of the game. If you can’t physically practice you’ve got to mentally practice which is doing the video work and watching practice and things like that which made me a lot hungrier. Then I got in there and I started rolling around a little bit when I started feeling better, and then I’ve been really working with my boxing coach. My whole thing is that I don’t want to resort to my wrestling all of the time. I want to be able to stand up with these guys and swing. I do it in practice and then when I get to the fight it’s, you know a big crowd in front of you and everybody is expecting you to finish it, so instead of risking anything standing up I’ve always wanted to take down. Now I think that I’m going to spend a little bit more time on my feet and swing my hands a little bit more and get comfortable doing that because if I can do it in the practice room then I definitely should be able to do it in a competition.
PRO MMA NOW: Rumor has it that your contract with Strikeforce was up and you chose not to re-sign. Can you talk about why you and Strikeforce parted ways and clear up any rumors that might be out there?
BOBBY LASHLEY: It was basically that. I think Coker is a great guy and I think that he has a great organization. The last card was incredible. It was a great fight show. I have no bad words to Strikeforce or Coker. I think he is great. I just felt the need to just get away from that relationship for whatever reasons and start over and build myself back up. I’ve been talking with Joe Kelly and he has been an incredible person to talk with and an incredible person to work with and I see his vision with his organization and I just want to be a part of it. Then having an opportunity to be able to fight in Kansas and really build back up and get ready I think it was just the right fit for me.
PRO MMA NOW: Could you ever see yourself fighting with Strikeforce sometime in the future?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I don’t know about that.
PRO MMA NOW: Can you talk about how, if any, your time as a professional wrestler has helped your MMA career.
BOBBY LASHLEY: Professional wrestling is in one realm and fighting is a whole other. I love professional wrestling so I’m never going to say anything bad about professional wrestling. It was a tough job with me traveling all around, having to jump in front of crowds and compete, and everything like that. I figured that would be able to relax me a little bit more when it came to national competitions but the fact of the matter is that it’s a whole different kind of competition. It helped me be able to travel and train and be able to keep my body up as much as possible but when you go in front of an MMA crowd and get into that cage, nothing can prepare you for that fight but the fight itself. You can’t substitute the experience of being in that cage for anything else.
PRO MMA NOW: You along with guys like Brock Lesnar and Batista have made the jump to MMA from professional wresting. Do you ever talk to those guys any?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I haven’t talked to Brock. You know I’ve never really talked to Brock. When I went to WWE he was already out so our paths have never crossed so I’ve never even met him or even talked to him. Then as far as Dave Batista, we were pretty good friends when we were in the WWE but when we came out of the WWE, when he went into his fight deal, I think that his target was kind of set on that big fight and that big fight was supposed to be against me. So I think our relationship kind of went two different directions and I think the reason why he was wanting to do that was because he was wanting to use me as his big match and I think that’s what Strikeforce is really hoping for if they have that match with me against Dave. I haven’t really talked to him since I’ve been out of the WWE or since he’s been out of the WWE.
PRO MMA NOW: You’ve said in the past that while a fight between you and Batista might be a good fight for the fans, it wasn’t really a good fight for your career. Do you still feel that way, and are you open to a fight with him at some point in the future?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I’m open to a fight with almost anyone and Dave has been training. I’ve heard that he’s been training pretty hard and if that fight were presented I would definitely take it. Of course it is a fight for a lot of wrestling fans because a lot of wrestling fans out there want to see that fight. There are millions upon millions of wrestling fans, but I’m not going to decline that fight. If that fight were ever brought to me I would definitely sign in a second and fight him. That’s the way the fight business is. You have to fight so whoever is brought to you that is who you are going to be fighting.
PRO MMA NOW: Do you ever see yourself at any point going back to professional wrestling?
BOBBY LASHLEY: Man I love professional wrestling. Some people get out of professional wrestling and they’re real bitter for several different reasons. I don’t know, maybe it’s the travel, maybe it’s the people that you encounter when you are in the wrestling business, but for me I loved wrestling when I was in there. It was very time consuming and it was hard at the time when you were just thrust into an organization and there are a lot of really shady people in wrestling. I mean I dealt with them on a daily basis. But that’s not going to stop the fact that I love the sport. If I had an opportunity to go back to wrestling I would definitely consider it. I still do some wrestling. I go to Japan every couple months and I work with an organization out there with Inoki’s organization IGF (Inoki Genome Federation). So I still get that taste of wrestling going out there and working out with those guys. At the same time, there are usually a handful of fighters there. Like last time Josh Barnett was there so I was able to work out a little bit there and do some MMA training and then have the show. I’m completely open to professional wrestling anytime.
PRO MMA NOW: Is there anyone you would like to thank or sponsors you would like to plug?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I always try to keep up with everything and plug my sponsors and give shout outs to my sponsors on my Facebook page (Facebook.com/fightbobby). I’m usually on there. I’ll be putting some videos up and some pictures up just to let people know that I’m not still sick and that I do have some energy so I’ll be putting some serious strength and conditions training up there and some of my boxing training, some of my Muay Thai training, and some of my wrestling training. I’ll have it all up there so people can take a look at it.
PRO MMA NOW: So the best way for fans to keep up with what you’re doing would be to visit your Facebook page?
BOBBY LASHLEY: Yep.
Titan Fighting Championships 17 will air live on HDNet Friday, March 25, from the historic Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Tickets are on sale now at all local Ticketmaster outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com, as well as the Memorial Hall box office.