Last month, former WWE star and current Bellator heavyweaight Booby Lashley was quoted saying he wished he didn’t sign with Strikeforce so soon in his career.

Well, that may not entirely the case; the pro wrestler turned fighter recently revealed to The MMA Corner that he actually did welcome signing with the organization.

Check out what Lashley had to say about the matter, his upcoming fight against Karl Etherington at Bellator 130 on Friday, and more.

The MMA Corner: In an interview you did before your last fight, you said that you wanted to fight a bigger name as this might be your last run in the MMA world. If that’s the case, why did you decided to take the fight with Karl Etherington, considering he’s a lesser known name?

Bobby Lashley: Names don’t make fighters. The guy’s 9-0 right now, he just fought in the UK. I think one thing that we do around here is we put too much name value on opponents, and I think we hype up our opponents and hype up our people too much. And with Bellator, when they called me and said you need to fight, so they called me up and said, “We got a guy who’s undefeated right now, do you want the fight?” It was just after my last fight and I said, “Absolutely.”

TMC: Speaking of Etherington, how do you feel you stack up against him and how do you expect the fight to go down on Friday night?

Lashley: I don’t know too much about him, first off, I saw one or two of his fights and, for me, what I wanted to put into my training camp is things I needed to do, as opposed to training for a specific fighter. After this one, there’s going to be another one, so I don’t want to focus on just what one guy’s going to do, I’m focusing on what I’m capable of doing and just keep building from that.

So, with this fight, I think that he’s going to come at me really hard. I think I’ve got to control it from the beginning, and if I take control from the beginning, I think I can wear him down and finish him pretty quick.

TMC: Should you win on Friday, have you put any thought into who you might want to face next? Are there any names you plan on calling out if you get your hand raised in that Bellator cage?

Lashley: I don’t call out anybody. No. I know that Bellator has a lot of guys that they want me to step up and fight against.

TMC: Why do you not feel the need to call people out?

Lashley: It’s just not my style. I think from what I like from MMA and what I don’t like from MMA, I want to keep it classy and you don’t see… so many people in this business run around and call people out like they do in pro wrestling. Here, I let the matchmakers do their job and let the organization do their job in putting the right fights together and the right fighters together. So I’m going to let them do their job and I’m going to do my job and train and get ready.

TMC: In the past you’ve called yourself a pro wrestler who fights. Do you still think that way or do you consider yourself more of a bona fide martial artist?

Lashley: When I said I’m a pro wrestler, that didn’t mean I wasn’t a martial artist. I think that I can do both and I certainly am going to do both. Somebody says, “Hey that’s Bobby Lashley, the pro wrestler,” yeah, that’s me. Somebody says, “Hey, that’s Bobby Lashley, the MMA fighter,” yeah that’s me. So, I’m not going to take away from either one of them. I am going to continue doing both of them and having a good time while I do it.

My martial art is wrestling, so I do consider myself a martial artist. Everything else that I’ve been doing has been increasing the other aspects of the martial arts with my boxing and kickboxing and jiu-jitsu and everything like that. So I absolutely do consider myself a martial artist across the board.

TMC: In a recent interview you said that you wish you didn’t initially sign with Strikeforce, as you weren’t as ready for MMA back then as you are now. Considering Scott Coker is now the president of Bellator, is this your second chance, in a manner of speaking, with the organization?

Lashley: That answer was taken completely out of context, I wish I knew who did it because I don’t want to do an interview with that person again. However, I didn’t mean I didn’t want to go into Strikeforce, because absolutely I wish I did. I made a lot of money there and I had my eyes open to the world of martial arts and I met some really good people. All I said was at the time I was really immature in my stages of training and learning of MMA, so I was kind of thrown into the deep waters when I may have not been completely ready for it. Like I said before, it’s a double-edged sword having my name, it’s going to bring a bigger fanbase and more eyes on me, so they’ll have to put me on the main card and different things like that. So, I had to do what I had to do and they had to do what they had to do. So, that is what I meant by that.

Now, with Scott Coker with Bellator, I have an opportunity to be with him. In Strikeforce, I had the chance to meet him and  he’s a great guy, so now, being with Bellator and being the chief of Bellator right now, I think it’s a good mix. Him coming over here, I know he’s about the fighters, I know he looks [after] the benefits of the fighters, and how he brings a good team with him.

TMC: How do you think you’ve evolved as a mixed martial artist?

Lashley: Just the ability to stay calm in the ring. I think that’s the biggest thing. You don’t know how you’re going to react when you get out there and start fighting. With me, now, I’ve learned so much more. I look back at some of my fights and I look at all the mistakes that I’ve made and all the things that I missed. Now, I look at it and am like, well, I’m a completely different fighter right now and, in my eyes, I’m a way better fighter now, with the ploys and tightening up the loose holes and everything in my game. I think I’m just a way better, way more mature fighter than I was before.

TMC: King Mo has said before that pro wrestling is more grueling than MMA. Do you echo those sentiments?

Lashley: I think it depends on where you’re at in your career. I think some people that have been fighting forever, they don’t have to have such intense training camps. They want to prepare, they want to get ready, but they’re going to train smarter and, I think with pro wrestling, some of the guys who are kind of newer to the sport, they’re going to have to really put in the time so they can learn how to develop as a professional wrestler. So, I really think it depends on where you’re at. It can be grueling and it depends on what league you’re in, depends on how much you’re doing it, because pro wrestling, every match is going to be something that takes away from you. Fighting, you know, every training session is going to take something out of you. I think it really depends on where you’re at in your career in both, whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, whether kind of in the middle, and what promotion you’re with.

TMC: What do you hope people remember about Bobby Lashley?

Lashley: I just want them to be able to separate it every once in a while. I want them to be able to talk about me in three different ways. I talk about myself in three different ways. There’s the Bobby Lashley the person that, if you get to know me, you really won’t have ill will towards me. I have a lot of good friends, I have a lot of people that understand the real person, the dad Bobby, I do a lot for kids and everything like that. So that’s that part of me.

Another part of me is Bobby the fighter, and that’s what I want them to know and that’s why I fight. I want them to know, hey, he is a serious martial artist. And then I want them to separate that and, when they talk pro wrestling, say, “Man, this guy was a great pro wrestler, he’s a champion.” So I want them to be able to say, not Bobby Lashley the pro wrestler that fights, I want them to say, “Hey, he was a fighter and he was a pro wrestler.”

About The Author

Staff Writer

Matt Juul is loving college life as he pursues a career in journalism and cinema. A writer and pop culture fanatic, his interests and expertise range from arts and entertainment to the rough and tough world of mixed martial arts. Matt’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston.com, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, and the New Haven Register.