Tom “The Filthy Mauler” Lawlor is one of the best talkers in MMA today, so it was a thrill to sit down with him for the following interview, in which we cover Hulk Hogan, underground music, fashion, and, oh yeah, his upcoming fight with Aaron Simpson at Ultimate Fight Night 19.
Heavy.com: I hear you’re on the prowl for new entrance music. Have you settled on Hulk Hogan’s “Real American”, or are you looking for something a little more unique (since Matt Riddle used it recently).
Tom Lawlor: Yeah, I’m kind of upset that Matt Riddle used it for his last fight. I was not aware of that and I’m glad that somebody brought it to my attention. I’m on the lookout for something new, but the overwhelming support and sentiment still seems to be with Real American. But there’s just something inside of me, in my heart, that’s saying it’s not right. So I think I’m going to go with an alternative.
Heavy.com: Hulk Hogan seems to be coming back into fashion these days, doesn’t he?
Tom Lawlor: Oh yeah. Yeah, he does. I watched a little bit of his big return (to Total Nonstop Action) last night just trying to get myself pumped up and in the mood. I have it DVR’d at home. So if I have to go ahead and use his music, believe me, I will make Hulk Hogan proud.
Heavy.com: How much effort do you put into planning your entrances?
Tom Lawlor: That’s pretty much all I think about.
Heavy.com: Forget training, right? Just work on the entrance.
Tom Lawlor: Well, I do train, but it’s for my entrance. This is one that people have wanted me to do. They want me to do the whole thing, where I rip my shirt and all that. So I’ve actually started working out. I’ve been doing a lot of bench presses and a lot of bicep curls. I’ve been going through the motion of ripping the shirt off and doing a lot of ab work.
Heavy.com: You mentioned polling the fans about your entrance music. You’re a frequent poster on the Underground. What is it about that place that entices fighters to post there so often?
Tom Lawlor: Well, for me, it’s probably because The Underground sends me women on a regular basis to keep me posting there. Sometimes they’ll send twins for me to go ahead and have my way with. They’ve promised me that in the future I will have my own cabana in the Bahamas with people fanning me down and feeding me grapes at all times. Ad I believe them when they say this, so I keep posting.
Heavy.com: Sounds like you have a pretty sweet deal there.
Tom Lawlor: Yeah, it’s not bad. But it’s also because (Underground proprietor) Kirik…well, he’s tall and scary looking. He looks kind of like a praying mantis. Or actually, he looks like that character Zorak from The Brak Show. Like a giant, scary praying mantis. He’s pretty scary, so I’ll keep posting so I stay on his good side.
Heavy.com: Who has the best fashion sense: you or Seth Petruzelli?
Tom Lawlor: Seth. He’s the one that cares about looks. I’m the butch, he’s the lipstick.
Heavy.com: Is Seth interested in a Kimbo rematch?
Tom Lawlor: Oh, there have been companies coming out of the woodwork that wanted to do it. But he just signed to fight Ken Shamrock in Mexico, and he’s pretty excited about it. It’s just hard to find time for training between making milkshakes.
Heavy.com: You had a brief pro wrestling career, didn’t you?
Tom Lawlor: I did. I mean, I was doing amateur wrestling and other real stuff, but on the side I was doing professional wrestling.
Heavy.com: Why do you think pro wrestling gets such a bad name among certain sectors of the MMA fan community?
Tom Lawlor: A lot of guys want to have this aura where they come off as a bad ass. But what it comes down to is that all sports, MMA included, are in the entertainment business. If people thought NBA games were boring, the league would fold. The same thing goes for the NFL and baseball. Well, baseball is boring. Nobody can deny that. I don’t know how that one survived.
A lot of people don’t realize that you just have to draw a fine line without going overboard on one side or the other. I’m starting to watch pro wrestling again. But in real life, you have to be careful walking that line. You don’t want to blur the lines of reality too much these days with how much the sport is growing.
Heavy.com: Yeah. Brock Lesnar would be a perfect example of someone who seemingly gets a raw deal from MMA fans. Do you think that’s because he went overboard last summer, or is it just because of his wrestling background?
Tom Lawlor: I mean, Brock was getting a raw deal before UFC 100. I’m sure it didn’t help in the eyes of a lot of people, but people were already hoping he would lose before that. I was in a bar watching his UFC debut against Frank Mir, and I mean, there was a huge uproar when he lost.
There’s almost a divide between old fans of the UFC and fans who are getting into the sport because of Brock. I think the main reason Brock gets a raw deal is because of his success, you know? Even if Brock weren’t a former pro wrestler, people would still be complaining about his size or the fact that he’s so big and dominating. People will always look for a way to shoot down somebody or to demean someone else’s accomplishments. People rag on Fedor and say he’s fat. Who cares? Brock is going out there and winning, and he’s doing it right. He’s not cheating.
Heavy.com: I guess I should ask you at least one question about your fight against Aaron Simpson next Monday. What do you see in Aaron Simpson that presents problems for you? Or do you see anything at all?
Tom Lawlor: A fight is a fight. People always overanalyze this stuff. They do things that end up working against them instead of trying to make themselves better. I look at my time here in the UFC and in MMA as a long distance race. Take Chuck Liddell, for example. He was the champion until he was in his late thirties.
So I know what Aaron Simpson does. He’s quick, he’s explosive, he’s powerful. But at the same time, there’s nothing that I’m outright trying to avoid. I’m going out there trying to win, not to stay away from Aaron’s game. I’m going to to go there and impose my will and impose my own game.
I just try to get better with each training session and each fight, and I will show it with this fight.