Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Inevitable Bobby Lashley Post

Get ready for a tidal wave of Bobby Lashley discussions, ranging from Brock Lesnar comparisons (also as inevitable as this post) to critiques of the former WWE superstar's still growing skill set.

Saturday night in Biloxi, Mississippi, Lashley headlined the Ultimate Chaos fight card and earned a first round submission win over former Pride and K-1 star Bob "The Beast" Sapp, improving his record to 4-0, not to mention my thoughts on his future in this sport.

Let's get the automatic Brock Lesnar comparison part out of the way up front.

In truth, there is no real comparison, as Kid Nate from Bloody Elbow accurate points out here. Outside of their time in the WWE, which was also quite different, they are actually quite different. Honestly, read Nate's piece; he covers it all.

But while I - like Kid Nate - give the edge to Lesnar in the physical specimen and collegiate pedigree categories, Lashley earns top marks from me for how he is approaching his transition into the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Not to take anything away from Brock Lesnar, his freakish athleticism and jet-propelled climb to the top of the UFC Heavyweight mountain, but to me, the way Lashley is going about his business earns much more respect in my books.

While I am certainly a fan of Lesnar's - as I declared here earlier in the week - his natural talents and abilities, combined with his immense following from the WWE gave him a greater opportunity than any fighter I can remember and he has made the most of it. He certainly has nothing to be ashamed of and the detractors can bitch about him all they want. I'm sure Brock Lesnar sleeps well at night.

That being said, seeing Bobby Lashley align himself with an outstanding camp at American Top Team and work his way up the ladder, taking the fights he is given and not simply looking to quickly cash in on his name recognition deserves praise.

It's shows a commitment to the sport and learning the craft as opposed to making money and using the natural talents he has been blessed with. He's like an anti-B.J. Penn, training his ass off and constantly looking to improve, instead of resting on his abilities and relying on being "The Prodigy." As great as Penn is now, he would reach the iconic status he feels he deserves if he just worked that much harder. Lashley looks like he is the opposite.

Chances are someone (read: Dana White, Tom Atencio, Scott Coker) have place a call or two to Bobby Lashley about taking the next step and moving to one of the larger organizations, but as of yet, that hasn't happened. In interviews, he acknowledges that he still has a great deal to learn and is interested in getting more fights under his belt before making the jump and that is why I'm confident that he will be a legitimate title contender by this time next year.

I was totally down on Lashley following his uneven performance against Jason Guida, as many were. Since that time, he wasted no time choking out Mike Cook up here in Edmonton and ran through the ridiculously large Sapp in just over three minutes last night. The improvement shows, as does the intelligence of abandoning the pre-fight hype declaration of looking to stand and trade with "The Beast" and utilizing his strength as a wrestler to take the fight to the floor and dominate.

Undoubtedly, a great deal of that gameplanning comes from ATT, who are either #1 or #1A as far as training teams go in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts depending on your feelings about Greg Jackson's squad in Albuquerque. Again, while he could certainly coast through these initial fights on the natural talents he possesses, training every day with a list of guys that includes Jeff Monson, Thiago Silva, Carmelo Marrero and Todd Duffee (just to name the guys around the same weight) is only going to help you improve and become a better fighter.

And that is what we're seeing in Bobby Lashley; the continued evolution and growth of a fairly household name as he transitions into the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

Here's to watching the evolution continue and Lashley continuing to go about things this same way.

The money and spotlight will always be there if you keep winning.

In the meantime, keep becoming a more complete fighter and earning victories and respect along the way.

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