Bobby Lashley would like to be known as a “pressure cooker”.
It might not make for a catchy nickname, but it’s a reputation that the Strikeforce heavyweight would like to cultivate.
“I want to get to the point where I’m just straight beating people up,” Lashley told Jason David Frank and Patrick Hutton on the Fearless Frank and Bam Bam Show on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “I want to start beating people up where people are not going to want to fight me because I’m just going to be putting so much pressure. I’m going to break them down physically, mentally, and then hurt them, and then watch them break, and then knock ‘em out.”
Many mixed martial arts fans know Lashley as one of two high profile WWE superstars – the other being current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar – to make the move to MMA. Fans are still reluctant to respect Lashley as a bonafide fighter, choosing instead to believe he is relying solely on the fame he earned in his previous career.
“Once you do something else, people erase everything else you did in your career,” Lashley said. “I’ve done a lot of different things in my career. Some guy comes in and they’ll do a jiu-jitsu class. They’ll get a belt and then they’ll put TapouT all over their car and they automatically have more credibility than I do, that’s where I have a problem.”
What those doubting fans fail to notice is Lashley’s extensive list of achievements in amateur wrestling. He claimed three national championships while wrestling at Missouri Valley College, three Armed Forces championships and won a silver medal at the CISM world championships.
Lashley has chosen to take the high road when it comes to the naysayers.
“I just try to cater to the people that are actually there to support what I’m trying to do and try not to listen to the ones that are trying to be haters all the time,” he said.
Lashley was training for the Olympics when an injury sustained during a bank robbery derailed his amateur wrestling career. He was actually fortunate to escape with only an injured knee.
“The guys came in (behind me),” Lashley said on the show. “They kicked the door open and immediately started shooting. He shot behind me and all I saw was everybody taking a dive in front of me, so I automatically took a dive down forward.”
“Later on, when I saw the surveillance camera pictures and some of the video, the guy was not more than ten feet behind me and he had the gun aimed straight towards my head when he was firing,” Lashley continued. “When he fired, the bullet went straight. If I didn’t take that dive I would have got shot in the back of my head because the bullet was in the wall straight in front of where I was standing.”
With his Olympic dreams dashed, Lashley entered the world of professional wrestling and rose to fame under the WWE banner. After a four year run, he was released from the organization and announced his intent to venture into a sport where the fights do not have predetermined outcomes.
His foray into pro wrestling wouldn’t end though, as he has made appearances in Asistencia Asesoría y Administración and Total Nonstop Action (TNA) in the years since his release from WWE. However, Lashley’s primary focus became mixed martial arts.
Unlike Brock Lesnar, Lashley would launch his career in the sport by fighting for a number of smaller promotions, including the Mixed Fighting Alliance and Maximum Fighting Championship, before ascending to a bigger stage. After four wins, including submissions of Bob Sapp and Mike Cook and a unanimous decision over Jason Guida, Lashley happened to have perfect timing when contacting Strikeforce.
“If I would have called a day sooner it would have been a no-go,” Lashley said. “They had something else going on – I think they were doing a tournament – that didn’t get approved or something. So, I just happened to call at the right time.”
His first fight for the promotion came in January of this year at “Strikeforce: Miami”. Lashley needed just over two minutes to score a TKO of UFC veteran Wes Sims.
Sims added another big name to Lashley’s short list of victims, but Lashley’s next opponent, Chad Griggs, might be his toughest challenge to date.
“He’s a fighter out of Arizona,” Lashley said of his foe. “I don’t know too much about him, but he has a pretty impressive record so we’ve been training pretty hard for him.”
Lashley describes himself as a workaholic and says he loves to train and learn. He actively seeks out training partners, puts a heavy focus on cardio and believes he is in better shape than any other heavyweight fighter.
“I wear a heart-rate monitor,” Lashley said. “(I try to) keep my heart-rate up all the time. I do a tremendous amount of cardio. We did seven five-minute rounds of sparring, where I had a fresh guy come at me every round. We do SpeedFlex training, as well as we incorporate some dynamic movements, like box jumps and some stabilizing stuff, and then we do a little weights and incorporate all of it.
“But the whole time I keep a heart-rate monitor up and I try to keep my heart-rate above 170 or 175 almost the entire time.”
While Lashley admits that his pro wrestling days cause fans to underestimate his abilities, he does recognize the huge promotional advantage that comes from his time in the world of sports entertainment.
“A match like me and Brock would be huge,” Lashley said of a fight with current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. “The wrestling fans would love it. It’s just two big guys that would brawl. And the fact that Brock’s the heavyweight champion, yeah, I would love to have an opportunity to fight him at some time. That would be a great fight for both of us.”
Their contracts currently put the two WWE superstars in rival MMA promotions, making a blockbuster pay-per-view meeting impossible.
But perhaps one day the two will collide.