Not many fans outside of the Kansas area had heard of John Ott (8-8) before it was announced that he was going to be fighting Bobby Lashley (6-1) at Titan Fighting Championship 17. There were even fewer who gave him a chance to survive even one round.
But he did.
Lashley was originally set to face James Jack (5-4-1), but after Jack missed several media shoots and stopped returning Titan’s phone calls, CEO Joe Kelly was forced to find a replacement opponent for the former WWE superstar. After a phone call from his manager telling him he had been offered the fight, Ott accepted, and found himself in the main event just a couple weeks before the fight.
When the bell signed the start of round one, there were few who thought the fight would even make it to subsequent rounds, but after five minutes, Ott proved all of the skeptics wrong. He not only survived the first round, but he survived the second round as well.
Then, in the final round, with Lashley moving slowly from exhaustion, the crowed erupted at the possibility of Ott pulling off an upset win. Even though the upset never materialized and Ott ultimately lost via decision, he had succeeded in at least one area, making a name for himself.
ProMMAnow.com‘s (www.prommanow.com) Josh Cross caught up with Ott earlier this week to break down the fight with Lashely. Ott analyzed his and Lashley’s performance, plus he talked about the feedback he’s gotten since the fight, when he expects to be back in the cage, and if he is still glad he decided to take the match-up.
PRO MMA NOW: Can you talk about when you got the call offering you the fight with Lashley, and if there was anything in particular that led you to accept the fight?
JOHN OTT: When I initially got the call I was out of town. I was in Fort Riley, Kansas, which is kind of funny because [Lashley] grew up right out there in the Fort Riley area and my manager called me and asked me if I wanted to fight Bobby Lashley and I was like “the WWE guy? How much does he weigh?” Was my first question and I was like “I’ll take it. Let me watch some stuff,” but you can’t turn down fights like that. You’ve got to hop on them you know, or the next person will take it. After watching some film and stuff and I kind of got a better perspective of how he was. I saw some different openings and stuff like that, but yeah I hopped on it pretty quick when I got the opportunity and it’s something I wanted.
PRO MMA NOW: Once you decided to take the fight, how did you go about training for it with such short notice?
JOHN OTT: Well I wasn’t in bad shape. And all the big guys at our camp, I got them together and I started training with them real hard. I just turned it up, way up, sparring and training hard, and doing different things. Lashley from what I saw, he is a really good wrestler. I know he had kind of gassed in a lot of his other fights but I was questioning on how bad he had gassed. That’s kind of something I wondering back and forth because he trains in Colorado. He’s at a higher atmosphere and someone who is doing that all day for their job, you would think that would become less of a factor, but you’ve got to remember the guy is 255 pounds of muscle. Anybody that takes that much oxygen is going to ware out and is going to lose it. I’ve watched some of his fights and from what I can take, he didn’t work a whole lot of submissions, just a takedown and ground-and-pound kind of fighter. That’s what I got from his fights and what I’ve done, I thought I could defend that and I thought that I could work something out. I didn’t think his takedowns would be as good as they were. He did have awesome takedowns, and that’s partly just because the guy is a strong dude.
PRO MMA NOW: Was there any specific type of game plan that you had going into this fight?
JOHN OTT: Well the game plan changed a little bit. Originally I wanted to close distance and I wanted to get him against the cage. But right off the bat he shot a takedown and that changed my game plan and I wanted to create a little more space. I just wanted to create more space and I couldn’t believe, his takedowns were legitimately really, really good. He had a really good double leg takedown and it was hard to stop and it was hard to sprawl against. But it changed my game plan a little bit through the fight.
PRO MMA NOW: Now early in the first round Lashley had that big slam on you, can you talk about that and just what it was like?
JOHN OTT: It didn’t really daze me. He shot in and then I was just trying to go for a guillotine and then I felt myself being lifted up in the air and I was kind of like “Ah I’m going to get slammed,” and I got slammed. It wasn’t bad. I mean I had a sore back the next day from it. It looked a little worse than what it was, but yeah it was a heck of a slam.
PRO MMA NOW: How much damage did Lashely do to you in that first round, because no one was quite sure just how bad it was until you got up and signaled that you were ok to your corner.
JOHN OTT: In the fight I was fine. I wasn’t ever dazed or I wasn’t ever stumbled. He landed a few hard shots and he got that hard takedown but I was fine. I wasn’t in any kind of pain. I have a rock solid head so I guess that helps out a little bit but I wasn’t in pain. I was still good to go.
PRO MMA NOW: It was obvious that by the end of the fight Lashley had gassed pretty bad. When did you notice that he was starting to gas during the fight?
JOHN OTT: Like he couldn’t keep his hands up you know. He was having trouble keeping his hands up and he stopped and it was almost like he didn’t want to fight anymore. He wasn’t going for anything and he was just trying to keep from getting hit. He started backing up more instead of coming forward. At that point I was like I’ve got to pick my shots carefully because like I said the guy has good, good takedowns. I was throwing a couple different shots and moving a little better and then he ended up getting that final takedown, but I mean I don’t know I still just wish they would have stood it up but that’s just how it goes. I just kind of readjusted and tried to move a little more and circle more and that is just kind of where I was at that point.
PRO MMA NOW: What were you thinking about during the last round when you were getting some good shots in on Lashley and the crowed erupted in support for you?
JOHN OTT: I was pumped up. I wanted to finish it. I wanted to finish on my feet. I was just thinking about what I was going to throw next because just about everything was open. I was just like ok I’ve got to keep from getting taken down and I’ve got to keep my hands moving. Like I said I wasn’t in bad shape. I’ve probably had six fights go to decision and I’ve fought some tougher fights and it wasn’t anything different other than the fact that the guy was just like a massive ripped body builder looking guy. That was about the only difference. He was really strong and he’s probably one of the best wrestlers but he definitely wasn’t the best stand up. I really wasn’t worried. I just wanted to keep working my game and I appreciate everybody that was supporting me and I was pumped. It was fun. I was out there having fun.
PRO MMA NOW: Now do you think you would have been able to pull off a win in that last round if Lashley had not of taken you to the ground?
JOHN OTT: I think I could have pulled off a win if I could have kept it on my feet, but you know it is what it is and you can’t change the past, you’ve just got to work towards the future. Maybe if I would have just turned that much more or avoided the cage or whatever I could have stopped the takedown but you know it is what it is.
PRO MMA NOW: In your post fight interview you said that the opportunity was there the whole time to finish Bobby Lashley. Can you elaborate more on that and talk about what that opportunity was that you saw? Was that opportunity just avoiding the takedown?
JOHN OTT: Avoiding the takedowns and keeping it standing. After the first round his blows he was landing on top weren’t nearly as hard. He’s just a heavy guy and hard to get off you. I’m sure his hips are pretty good too. He’s a tough, tough guy. I just wish I could have worked my hands a little better in the second and maybe if the opportunity was there to take a shot and work my ground a pound. I wish I could have done that too, but you can’t change what happened.
PRO MMA NOW: How much of a factor do you think the near 40-pound weight different between you two was? If there wasn’t that difference, do you think the outcome of the fight would have been different?
JOHN OTT: I think the weight did help him a lot. When he was on top of me I was like “how am I going to get up from this?” He is a big guy. In the first round I was thinking about trying some submissions but I was just like how is that going to be possible. There were some spots where I felt like I could have pushed an arm through and done a triangle or something like that but them I’m like well then I’m just going to get picked up and slammed so that’s not a good idea whether I get the leg or not. The weight difference definitely did affect it, but I mean I train with bigger guys all the time, but he is different. He’s an exception because of his wrestling skills and he is inhumanly strong.
PRO MMA NOW: What kind of injuries did you suffer as a result of the fight?
JOHN OTT: I’m good. I mean I don’t know. My nose is a little messed up and my face is a little smushy still but other than that my back hurt a little bit. I went to the gym yesterday and did a little jog and did a little arm workout. Sat in the hot tub and did some swimming and stuff. I mean I’m not in bad condition. I’m not the prettiest looking person right now but other than that I’m good.
PRO MMA NOW: What is some of the feedback that you have gotten personally about the fight since it happened?
JOHN OTT: My Facebook is still going crazy. I haven’t gotten as many calls as I did initially the next day after, [but] just texts and calls. It has been nothing but just motivation you know. It feels real good for people to say stuff like that. All these fighters are working hard every day and they are in there paying the time then it just makes you more hungry when you’re like when someone tries to say, “hey you can’t beat this guy,” or “hey what are you thinking?” You just want to prove them wrong. Then you go in there, you just fight as hard as you can, you don’t stop and you don’t give up and it’s cool to get some good feedback like that and people let you know that you’re being supported and the belief that people put in you. It’s not that I didn’t have belief in me but to see other people believe in you I guess is a cool feeling to have and a cool thing to see.
PRO MMA NOW: You definitely made some more fans and got your name out there more because of this fight. Now, looking back on the fight, are you still glad you decided to take it despite the loss?
JOHN OTT: Yeah, I mean it was a tough fight. That’s what I want. You know and a lot of people you know build up their fighters and do this. I just want to fight. You know I just love fighting. If I wanted to go fight people that aren’t worth fighting I know it’s not the smartest thing but I just love to fight. I just don’t know how else to put it. It feels good to just go out there and get challenged and really see how far you can push it and that’s kind of what I felt like I did. It was exciting. I was fighting someone where the odds were against me but I still believed in myself and I still thought that I could do it and you know I almost pulled through. I wish I could have changed a few things, but I still would have fought the fight.
PRO MMA NOW: So what is next for you? Are you taking some time off?
JOHN OTT: I might fight on Titan again in May. We’re trying to get that figured out right now.
PRO MMA NOW: Now would that fight be back at 185 or 205 pounds?
JOHN OTT: It would probably be a 205 pound fight. That’s kind of what we’re looking at. 185 is a tough cut you know. I can do it but it’s a tough cut. It’ll probably be a 205 pound fight. Maybe 185, but I’d do either one I guess. It doesn’t bother me. Just right now I’m here with my fighting and I’m here with my business career so it’s just everything exploding at once. It’s hard to manage all that and get everything figured out exactly what I want to do. You love fighting and you love your job and it makes everything real tough.
PRO MMA NOW: What would be the best way for fans to keep track of what you’ve got coming up in the future?
JOHN OTT: I’m on Facebook all the time. I’ll accept about any friend request just because I know that people watch me fight and I’ll accept any friend request pretty much. Facebook is the best way. I’m always posting stuff.
PRO MMA NOW: Are there any people or sponsors that you want to thank?
JOHN OTT: I want to thank everybody. I want to thank everybody that had faith in me, and all of the fans that came out. I want to thank everybody at Grindhouse, Huddleston and all of those guys that trained hard with me. Brian and Larry for getting me the fight and all the sponsors that I got on such short notice; Blood Shed Fightwear, Street Soldier, Posterboy, and all those different ones.
If you haven’t seen John Ott’s fight with Bobby Lashley, or want to see it again, HDNet has made it available here: John Ott vs. Bobby Lashley at Titan FC 17 – fight video.