If Brock Lesnar is a pro wrestling-to-MMA success story, Bobby Lashley still remains something of a cautionary tale. After almost two years in MMA, he still has yet to face a high-quality opponent, and yet here is in this preview clip from tonight's episode of "Inside MMA," talking about how much he'd like to fight Fedor Emelianenko.
It's tough to know exactly what to make of Lashley's defense of his MMA career thus far. On one hand, he makes some decent points. He's still fairly new to the sport, so why should he be ridiculed for not jumping in the cage against experienced veterans right away?
At the same time, because of his pro wrestling fame Lashley is pulling in far bigger paychecks than most 5-0 fighters will ever see. Eventually it would seem as though he has to justify that by fighting someone who actually matters.
Lashley's comments at the end of this clip, wherein he vows to "fast-track it" in the coming months, suggest that he feels the same way. And yet there are some conflicting messages here. At various points in the interview Lashley talks about Ron Sparks (who he was slated to fight at Strikeforce: LA before an injury sidelined him) as if he's either a complete nobody who hasn't beaten anyone of note, or "a person who's going to progress my career."
But before you can even process what that means, he's on to talking about how much he'd like to fight Fedor Emelianenko, as if a 5-0 record against the likes of Bob Sapp (who's 2-4 in his last six fights) and Jason Guida (18-21 overall) qualify him to take on one of the sport's best heavyweights.
In some ways, Lashley is a victim of Lesnar's success. If he made the jump from pro wrestling straight into the deep end of MMA, taking on guys like Frank Mir and Randy Couture right out of the gates, why didn't Lashley do the same? Answer: Because Lashley isn't Lesnar. No one else is.
What Lashley should concern himself with now is climbing up the heavyweight ladder one rung at a time. A bout with Sparks isn't a terrible idea, though someone like Shane del Rosario, who's 9-0, might be a tougher test.
But if Lashley really wants to find out how far he can go, the next year needs to be a busy one for him. It should also include at least one fight where he's not an overwhelming favorite going in, since it's hard to gain respect if all you're doing is beating up on opponents who were hired to lose.
Sorry, but you just don't go from fighting Wes Sims to fighting Fedor. Not in a sport where the outcomes aren't scripted, anyway.