Bobby Lashley: There’s a lot of pressure on me
Bobby Lashley is trying to remain patient. He may be undefeated, but it’s been a mere five MMA fights – just one for Strikeforce – and he maintains he’s “completely satisfied” with his development.
“Longevity is this sport is important,” Lashley told Heavy.com. “It’s going to be very, very soon when I take that next big step. We have people who have 40 fights under their belt. I have five. I want to get a couple of good fights in and want to start looking at that bigger competition when I know that I’m ready. I want to keep sharpening my tools, get better opponents, keep moving up and get better in the sport.”
A win over former IFL competitor Chad Griggs Saturday night in Houston and Lashley will proclaim the waiting game over and make it clear he wants a title shot. Longevity in MMA may be important, but at age 34, Lashley believes he doesn’t have the luxury of time. Even in the infancy stage of his fighting career, the former national champion at Missouri Valley College and World Wrestling Entertainment superstar chosen to play the protagonist role in a storyline involving chairman Vince McMahon and business Mongol Donald Trump that came to a head at WrestleMania, Lashley’s ambition knows no boundaries. His notable wins are a first-round TKO of Wes Sims in his Strikeforce debut and annihilation of Bob Sapp. Already he’s stated his desire to fight elite heavyweights Fedor Emelianenko and champion Alistair Overeem, vowing he’d be ready if he were asked.
Lashley’s grand designs are on hold unless he defeats Griggs. Six of his eight wins have come in the first round, but he hasn’t competed since last April 25 thanks to a slow recovery from an elbow injury. “I really don’t have any video on him, so I don’t know what he’s been doing,” confessed Lashley. Griggs has worked full-time as a firefighter and paramedic for 10 years. During a conference call promoting the event, he related the pressure and competition of fighting to the high-stress situations of his job. He knows most people have never heard of him, whereas Lashley rose high enough up WWE’s pecking order to earn a major role in the organization’s version of the Super Bowl and perform before an announced crowd of 80,103.
With great expectations come great demands. Lashley is supposed to win. Griggs has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Such an intangible makes “The Grave Digger” very dangerous.
“If he wins, that’s great for him, if I lose that will be huge,” Lashley said. “Anytime when someone with a bigger name gets into the industry there’s a lot of pressure on him. There’s a lot of pressure on me, so if do I lose, yes, it’ll hurt pretty bad.
“For him if he beat me then he’s the person who beat Bobby Lashley. I don’t think Strikeforce really cares. If somebody wins and somebody loses, that’s the person who gets the next big push. Everybody wanted Fedor to win. The fact that Werdum came in and beat him, now he’s the man. There’s always going to be a changing of the guard.”
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was blown away seeing Lashley compete for the first time and can’t help project what he’ll look like in the next 18 months. “We have five of the top heavyweights in the world right now,” Coker said. “We have talent that could fight at any level, and Bobby, he’ll fit right in there. The nice thing about this sport is that if you keep winning, you will get your title shot. Bobby needs to keep winning, and this will be a good test for him.” Lashley’s confidence is high off training at the American Kickboxing Academy with Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier. If his fight with Griggs goes where he’s expecting, his next destination is “straight to the top.”
“I know where my abilities are,” Lashley said during the call. “One thing my coach at the Olympic Training Center used to say was, ‘You could lie to the media, you could lie to everyone else, but once you get back to your hotel the night before your fight you can’t lie to yourself.’ At this point I can look at myself and say I’m 100 percent ready for this fight.”