In one of his last hard training sessions leading up to his bout this Saturday, PRO MMA ( got a peek at one of Eric Lawson’s sparring sessions at Combat Fitness in Concord, California. The Strikeforce middleweight traded leather with champion Muay-Thai practitioner Caley Scott and UFC veteran Gil Castillo.

Lawson (8-2) had been set to take on American Kickboxing Academy’s Richard Montoya, however, Montoya was forced to back out due to injury. Derrick Thornton had been slated to take Montoya’s place but Waylon Kennell (4-1) will go toe-to-toe with Lawson on April 11th at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz.

Being a natural wrestler, Lawson’s stand-up game has been viewed as a weakness by a few of his most recent opponents. Prior to their Strikeforce: Destruction bout, Tony Johnson stated in an interview leading up to their match with MMA Junkie Radio, (TAGG Radio at the time) that he hoped to keep the fight on the feet after viewing footage he had seen on Lawson. However, Lawson responded with a rear-naked choke, forcing Johnson to tap in the first round.

Lawson and Caley Scott

While opposition like Johnson see his striking game as weak, Lawson believes that his last three submission victories should be a credit to his stand-up game.

“My stand-up put me in the right position in my last fight. I’ve got a good overhand right and it opens my opponents up and allows me to finish the fight. My striking is another tool that I can use to control the fight and keep it to where I have the advantage.”

The 28 year old Concord native believes that his striking has improved since ‘Destruction’ in most part due to his training partners.

“I’m blown away that I get to spar with champion strikers like Caley, Damien (Negrete) and Brandon (Banda) every day. I’ve got some hands that no one has seen yet, because when I’m fighting a guy that I plan to throw with…they rush in on me and (the fight) makes its way to the ground.”

Out of the six stoppages he has compiled, Lawson has only one knockout. In order to continue to be successful in Strikeforce’s 185 pound division (which boasts strikers such as Benji Radach, Scott Smith, Robbie Lawler and Cung Le) competent striking has become a must. That being said, Lawson believes that his striking continues to improve after each fight.

Lawson and Gil Castillo

“I’m more accurate than the last time I fought. One thing is I take my time more, read my opponents more and time my combinations. When I throw my combinations I land them and make them count. I’ve learned to be more patient and make more intelligent decisions.”

Waylon Kennell may not be a Benji Radach or Robbie Lawler; however, Kennell knocked out his last opponent with a knee in 18 seconds. Lawson hopes to put his Strikeforce winning streak to five straight and Kennell hopes to end it. While it remains to be seen if Kennell and Lawson will engage in a slug fest on the eleventh, one thing can be certain; Eric Lawson does not see his striking as one of his weaknesses.

Note: Be sure to check out the complete photo gallery from Eric Lawson’s training session by visiting the PRO MMA ( photo gallery here.

Eric Lawson would like to thank Damon at Hitman Fight Gear, (, Heaven and Hell Tattoo, Liquid Bottles, Guadalajara Grill, shout out to m.d., Tim and Donni at Fit2thecore, Chris and Brian at and Gil and George at Combat Fitness. Also, Eric will be in the new MMA movie ‘Never Surrender’ with BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre and Quinton Jackson.

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