Talk about multi-tasking at a high level. Bobby Lashley is at the top of his game in two physical professions.
He is a top fighter for Bellator MMA and a top pro wrestler for TNA Wrestling.
Following the TNA Bound for Glory pay-per-view and a week of TNA Impact Wrestling television tapings at Universal Studios Orlando, Lashley turned his complete attention to Bellator MMA 162 where he will battle Josh Appelt in a heavyweight bout in the co-main event on Friday, Oct. 21 live on Spike TV from FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.
Q&A with Lashley
JV: What do you enjoy most about being an MMA fighter?
BL: “The competition.”
JV: The competition to have a good fight?
BL: “The competition as in the training in the room. I love going to different [MMA] camps and being able to train and spare with different people. The competition doesn’t have to do with us going out there and fighting in the cage. That’s not it. I think for most guys, they like to better themselves with the competition against themselves in getting better and then being able to see how better they get in front of certain people. When I do jiu-jitsu, it’s not, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to go and fight, so I can prove this in front of a lot of people how good I am in jiu-jitsu.’ No. I like to go into rooms with a bunch of black belts and roll for an hour to see how I am against those guys, because that’s more important, because that shows my progression of learning the sport.”
JV: What do you enjoy most about being a professional wrestler?
BL: “I get to act like a kid on TV and get paid for it. I love professional wrestling.”
JV: How do you balance the two schedules?
BL: “I wrestle for TNA; so it’s not so strenuous a schedule. I have plenty of time off from TNA. We do a week of taping, and then we have a month and a half off. With that month and a half off, I get more [MMA] training in than a guy who works a real job. [Training as a pro wrestler and an MMA fighter] is a little easier than people may think.”
JV: How would you say Bobby Lashley is different or similar as an MMA fighter and as a professional wrestler?
BL: “I’m an athlete, and I don’t play a character in professional wrestling. So they’re basically the same, because I play myself [in TNA]. I’m Bobby Lashley the wrestler there. They know my background. I have an Army background. I have an amateur wrestling background. I play that character in wrestling, which is me, and when I fight [MMA] it’s the same person. So it’s nothing different.”
JV: Coming from professional wrestling into MMA, did it take a while to be accepted from the MMA community?
BL: “Yea, but I don’t listen to them. The way I looked at it some of those people are on the ignorant side. There’s not a lot of people in mixed martial arts who have a 20-year background of training in martial arts. I did. So when these people come out and say, ‘Oh man, Bobby came from professional wrestling.’ I’m like, ‘Slow down.’ I’ve spent 20 years in amateur wrestling also and achieved things at the highest level.”
Lashley, 40, attended Missouri Valley College, where he won three national college amateur wrestling championships from 1996-98. He later joined the United States Army, where he continued to wrestle. He was training for the Olympics in 2004, when a knee injury ended his Olympic aspirations.
BL: “So the fact that you trained in jiu-jitsu for a couple of months or a couple of years and did some Muay Thai for a few weeks, that doesn’t put you above me. So I don’t really pay attention to the naysayers. I know that there was a time that people didn’t want to give me the credit, but I really didn’t care.”
Lashley let his actions speak as he just kept fighting and winning. He is 14-2 overall and 4-0 in Bellator.
JV: What do you think about Bellator?
BL: “Bellator’s been awesome. It’s been great to this point, and I think a lot of other people are starting to realize that people are moving over very quickly into Bellator. They’re seeing how much fun we’re having, and they’re seeing how great it is and how the fighters are being taken care of. I like it.”
JV: Are you a Smashing Pumpkins fan?
BL: “[chuckle] I am since Billy’s here. Hey, they’ve always had good songs. It’s not necessarily my genre of music, but I like Billy, and I have appreciation for all music. Billy’s good.”
Billy Corgan, the frontman for the alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins, is the president of TNA Wrestling.
JV: “What’s it been like working for Billy?
BL: “He’s cool. He’s very open minded. Coming into this business [pro wrestling], we kind of protect our business a little bit. When Billy came in, he wasn’t one of those guys like, ‘I run a promotion, and I know this, and I know this.’ He’s like, ‘This is the way that I’d like for it to go. If you have some suggestions, we can sit down and talk about it,’ and if my suggestion makes sense, then he will definitely consider it. If it doesn’t, he will tell me why it doesn’t. He’s still the president; so he’s not just going to say, ‘Here, I’m going to do whatever you want.’ He’s going to be open minded, and that’s how it’s been. So I can appreciate that.”
JV: Bellator 162 in Memphis, you’re in the co-main event. What does this event and this fight mean to you?
BL: “One step closer to where I want to be.”
JV: And where is that Bobby?
BL: “At the top of Bellator, holding that title.”
JV: Did you get a chance to watch CM Punk in his MMA debut?
BL: “I did, yes.”
JV: What did you think about it?
BL: “It’s hard to say. I know that he trained really hard, and I know through the people who he trained with that they have a lot of respect for him for what he’s done. He went in there and busted his ass. He was humble, and he did everything he could. The biggest thing is, and I’ve said this many times before, we just don’t know how good this Mickey Gall is.”
Gall, 24, is 3-0 professionally, 2-0 in UFC where he beat Punk quickly in his last fight.
“So right now it’s hard to make a determination did Punk do good or did Punk do bad, because we don’t know how good Mickey Gall is. Mickey Gall could go on a five, 10-fight winning streak, and if he does, then Punk stepped in the ring with someone really good, or this kid could be just a one shot deal, and we go, ‘OK, the kid wasn’t that great,’ but at least Punk went out there and had fun.”
JV: Was there any adjustment going from pro wrestling to MMA and back to pro wrestling?
BL: “I never really got out of either one [pro wrestling or MMA]. I fought for some of the smaller organizations, MFC, went over to India and fought. To me, I just wanted to come across as a better martial artist. You have to be comfortable in that ring, and I didn’t feel that I was comfortable, when I got into it. So I wanted to make sure that I was comfortable.
“The same thing in professional wrestling. When I stepped away from TNA the first time, I didn’t just step away from professional wrestling. I did indie bookings.
“When I came into the wrestling ring, I was put on a grand stage early in my career. The biggest WrestleMania in history with Donald Trump, I was put in this big position just a few years into my career. So when I did step away [from WWE], I did independent wrestling also, and that made me a better wrestler overall.”
Lashley, representing Donald Trump, faced Umaga, representing Vince McMahon, in a Battle of the Billionaires match, hair vs. hair, at WrestleMania 23 in 2007 at Ford Field in Detroit. Lashley won for Trump, who is currently the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America. Lashley winning for Trump meant McMahon lost his hair, shaved bald.
JV: How do you deal with any challenges, when you’re reading or involved, if TNA is going to continue or not?
BL: “I don’t deal with that. All I deal with is performing. I can’t worry about every aspect of everything that’s going on. The only thing I have to worry about is whether or not I’m getting paid, which I have been getting paid, and if I get the opportunity to perform, which I have.
“[TNA majority owner] Dixie Carter’s a pretty straight forward lady, and she told us that everything should be ok. All I do is continue doing my job, and hopefully everything will work itself out.”
JV: Do you ever think we can see a Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar in an octagon or a wrestling ring?
BL: “A lot of people want to see it. It’s one of those things that I’ve been asked about so many times. I think that the way things stand right now it would probably be in a wrestling ring, because I don’t know with Brock’s [MMA] suspension from his last fight, but I’d be willing to do either one.”
JV: Cody Rhodes, an outstanding talent with an outstanding family history, and [his wife] Brandi, they’re now with TNA. Did you ever get to work with Dusty and what are your thoughts of Cody coming over to TNA?
BL: “Yes, I did get to work with Dusty. He was incredible. I liked his attitude. You could see that he was having fun with it. I worked with Cody before, and actually I worked with Cody this week [Oct. 2-9 for TNA at Universal Studios Orlando]. Cody is a great talent. He gets it. The good thing about him being with TNA. 1) TNA will give him the opportunity to do what he wants to do. I think that’s why he stepped away from WWE. He had a lot of ideas of things that he wanted to do, and I think they didn’t give him an opportunity to actually do them. Here in TNA, they’ll give you an opportunity to do them. Now, with that being said, if they give you an opportunity, you’d better run with it.
“So having Cody in TNA is a win-win for everyone. He gets an opportunity to do what he wants to do, and we get an opportunity to have his name and his stardom over here.”
JV: Would you ever think about working for WWE again or is that something you don’t even think about?
BL: “I’m going to say the cliche everybody says. Never say never. I know one thing. The schedule is a very grueling schedule with WWE. There may be people in there that possibly don’t want me there. I don’t know if that’s the case. It’s just a never say never kind of deal.
“It would have to be a certain situation for me to able to do it and then a certain reason. I know they’re not going to say, ‘Hey, let’s just bring Bobby back and have him go on the schedule and be one of the guys.’ They’d have to bring me back to the right role, because we’d want to work this angle with Brock.”
- Bellator MMA 162
Bellator MMA 162 will be at FedExForum on Friday, Oct. 21 in Memphis, Tenn., when the Scott Coker-led promotion presents a card featuring the always-exciting Bobby Lashley (14-2) against Josh Appelt (12-5) in heavyweight action in the co-main event.
The main card broadcast live on Spike TV is headlined by the return of former middleweight champion Alexander Storm Shlemenko (53-9), who meets Kendall Grove (23-15) in middleweight action.
Lashley, a former WWE Superstar, is also featured on TNA Impact Wrestling shows on Pop TV (8 p.m. ET Thursdays) and pay-per-view.
Tickets are on sale at Bellator.com, Ticketmaster or FedExForum Box Office.
Main card action kicks off live and free on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
Lashley is a must-see mixed martial artist, as well as professional wrestler, and will make his first appearance inside the Bellator cage in 2016 during the co-main event at FedExForum. The Dominator will be looking to run his current winning streak to eight fights with five-straight finishes. With the heavyweight belt recently vacated, there’s an argument that can be made that the Aurora, Colo., native is the big man to beat in Bellator MMA’s heavyweight weight class.
Appelt was set to make his fifth appearance under the direction of Bellator MMA against Sergei Kharitonov at “Bellator 154: Davis vs. King Mo,” but after the 35-year-old Russian withdrew because of illness, Appelt was forced to wait. Now, The Juggernaut is once again set to return, and again, the 33-year-old California native will have his hands full. With 10 stoppages in 12 victories, Appelt will look to use his striking ability to nullify the strong wrestling pedigree of Lashley.
A former Bellator MMA Middleweight Champion, the Storm has kept busy, racking up a pair of wins already in 2016, adding to his seemingly endless resume of victories since turning pro in 2004. A natural born finisher, Shlemenko’s success in MMA has also translated to coaching, as he’s played a pivotal role in the ascension of current Bellator MMA welterweight kingpin Andrey Koreshkov.
In addition, because of Shlemenko’s recent suspension, Bellator officials have enlisted the services of The Mohegan Department of Athletic Regulation to administer drug tests before and after Shlemenko's fight against Grove. The former middleweight champion is presently licensed with the Mohegan commission.
Fixated on getting another shot a Bellator’s middleweight title, Grove has strung together two emphatic stoppage wins since losing his bid to attain gold at Bellator 137: Halsey vs. Grove. The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter: 3” on SPIKE, the Maui, Hawaii native has also been competing professionally for longer than a decade, racking up wins and a plethora of finishes along the way. An experienced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt and Muay Thai practitioner, Shlemenko will need to be on his A-game when the two square off in the main event on Oct. 21.
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