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Bobby Lashley: CM Punk 'feeds on' fan hate, uses it to better himself

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

CM Punk has gotten more than his fair share of heat for attempting to make the transition from pro wrestling to MMA. Bobby Lashley has been there, though many people have forgotten that he was bashed as well.

"It's just that I'm not one of those people to fight the criticism," Lashley told MMA Fighting. "I don't go on social media. If somebody has something negative to say, I'm a very -- I won't say introverted, because I'm not introverted -- I'm a very just calm person. I don't move into the negativity and when I get those, I just move past it."

Lashley thinks CM Punk is the polar opposite. He believes the former WWE star almost embraces that venom and bile from social media trolls and uses it to improve himself.

"I think Punk is one of those guys that needs it," said Lashley, who meets James Thompson at Bellator 145 on Friday in St. Louis. "He's one of those 'f-you' guys. Like, 'Oh I can't do it? Yes I can.' He feeds on that and I think he uses that to make himself better. I say either shut it off or keep feeding into it. Whatever he feels like works for him."

Punk went on a rant last month on The MMA Hour against Twitter's "cesspool of humanity." He seemed to be at his wick's end with all the criticism following a shoulder injury that has kept him out of training at Roufusport since August. (Punk began training again this week, according to coach Duke Roufus on Twitter.)

Lashley believes Punk should be used to taking heat and overcoming it. That exact thing, Lashley said, is what marked him as successful in WWE.

"He doesn't fit the bill of the Brocks (Lesnar) and Rocks and everything like that," Lashley said. "And he overcame every one of those odds and he shut people up and he deemed himself for a while as 'The Best in the World.' He overcame some huge odds to do what he did. So now, look at him. He's going to MMA and he's getting the same things that he got before. I think when people learn that blueprint of being successful, they can apply that blueprint to anything they do. He's not sitting at home doing nothing. That guy is at one of the best camps right now and he's busting his ass and working his ass off."

Lashley, who once headlined Wrestlemania and currently works for the TNA pro wrestling promotion, had one significant thing over Punk when he started MMA: an impressive background in amateur wrestling. Lashley, 39, was a two-time NAIA national wrestling champion in college and also wrestled in the United States Army.

Punk, 36, has very little formal martial arts training and no previous competition experience. He came in when he was signed by the UFC last December with essentially clean slate. Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, has been training at Roufusport since early 2015.

The biggest negative with that, Lashley said, is that Punk won't have that bread and butter to go to when things get tough in the Octagon. Lashley can rely on his wrestling. Punk needs to develop something he's comfortable with him that can help him through.

"I know he has one thing," Lashley said. "I know that guy has a tremendous amount of heart. There's no such thing as 'I can't' for him."

And, regardless of the hate, Lashley is sure of one thing when it comes to CM Punk in the UFC.

"I know he's gonna draw a lot of fans," Lashley said. "And I think that's what the promotion is looking at. They're not looking for him to be a UFC champion; they're looking at him to put on a good show and prove some people wrong and it'll be an exciting fight."

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