The name of Bobby Lashley resonates as the bridge between two of the most popular combat sports disciplines- Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts. A former United States Army Sergeant, Lashley is currently on his second reign as the WWE Champion and in parallel with his squared circle stint, he has also performed inside the cage, fighting for Bellator MMA and Strikeforce with a commendable fight record. However, Lashley had made the decision to retire from MMA and fully focus on being a pro wrestler, and also opened up on why he never considered joining the top drawer in MMA, the UFC.
I came into MMA with the wrong mind frame: Bobby Lashley
Looking back at the history of both pro wrestling and MMA, there have been several fighters who belong from one and joined the other, or even switched back and forth between the two promotions. We have examples of Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, CM Punk and etc.
Lashley, who started off as a pro wrestler in 2005 with WWE, made his MMA debut three years later for Mixed Fighting Alliance (MFA) in their inaugural event “There Will Be Blood”. He would later join Strikeforce and then Bellator MMA and in the latter, he remained unbeaten throughout his five fights from 2013 to 2016.
Appearing in a recent episode on The MMA Hour, the WWE champ opened up on the difficulties he was facing to continue his MMA career despite winning big fights for Strikeforce and Bellator and it all boiled to the mindset he had before entering the cage.
“I think because when I came into it, I came into it with the wrong mind frame,” Lashley said. “When I originally came into fighting, I came into it saying I want to do one fight. Then I won one fight, then another fight, and then another fight, and then all these things started getting thrown at me. The hardest thing with me with fighting was I had all these fights, I think I had 18, 19 fights, something like that, there was some that were kind of like smaller fights that didn’t really get put on my Sherdog record, but I didn’t ever have an actual training camp. Never had a training camp.
“That was one thing when I was like, ‘Man, can we run for the title? I want to run for the title.’ I’m a single father, so I had my kids, and I what I was literally doing is I was having to run down to [train with Josh] Barnett. I did some work with Barnett, I was running down to American Top Team and I would be there for a week. And then I had to run home and I was with my kids and then I’d run back and I’d get a little bit of sparring in a couple of days here or there and Josh would come up and meet me and he’d do a little bit with me. So my camps were just so broken and as a fighter, once you start moving up the levels, you really have to have a game plan. You’ve really got to have a team, you’ve really got to have everything together.”
Lashley was not ready to give up pro wrestling and join the UFC
Lashley, who has a 15-2 MMA record and last fought for Bellator in 2016, found it challenging to stay with the WWE and also aim for a title fight in Bellator or make a switch to the UFC.
“I built an American Top Team in Denver and I was like, maybe I can bring people in,” Lashley went on, “But now these are a lot of expenses that I was taking on and now I’m running a gym. Now I’m selling my cardio kickboxing class and trying to push my crossfit courses and I was like alright, this is pulling me further away from what I’m trying to accomplish.
“I was like, if I want to do this thing full time, get in the UFC and make a run or stay with Bellator and run for that title, I’ve got to put it all together and it was challenging. I didn’t find a way that I could do it and I didn’t want to take any time away from my kids, so I was kind of in an awkward situation.”
Furthermore, while Bellator allowed him to continue his pro wrestling career side to side, the same would not have been possible under the UFC’s banner and that is the reason he stayed away from Dana White’s promotion.
“I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I know that Dan had talked with Dana at one time and Dana he was fair with it, he said, ‘You know we can’t offer him a huge contract, but we will give him something that he can get his foot in the door and kind of prove himself.’ That’s all I knew and then when I talked with Dan about it — Dan’s a huge pro wrestling fan — Dan was like, ‘They want you to sign everything. There’s no more pro wrestling. Are you ready to shut the doors on pro wrestling?’ I was like, ‘Golly.’ You can’t offer me a contract and say, ‘Yeah we bring him in, but he needs to shut all of that down and get small money.’ Because the wrestling is something that I knew that I could really make some good money on long term. So I couldn’t take a small contract to prove myself where I had pro wrestling where I’d already proven myself and that was always my money bag that I could always go back to. So I really couldn’t do it.”
“Everything was left up in the air for me with Coker and I wish I could have done that with Dana, but I understand that you can’t do that in the UFC. He’s not gonna let anybody have that part-time, do-whatever-you-want kind of contract and that’s what I needed and that’s what he wasn’t willing to give,” Lashley concluded. [H/T MMAfighting.com]
- Two-time and reigning WWE Champion Bobby Lashley who retired from mixed martial arts explains that he did not have the right mindset for continuing as an MMA fighter
- Lashley competed in Strikeforce and Bellator and had his last MMA fight in 2016 finishing with a 15-2 record
- Lashley added he was not ready to give up pro wrestling and solely join the UFC
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