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Heavyweight Lorenzo Hood looking to create (further) shockwaves in Bellator debut

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Before he switched to mixed martial arts, Lorenzo Hood was just your average 290-pound defensive lineman would could run a 4.5 flat. He played collegiate football and later in Canada’s arena league. He performed well enough at a regional NFL combine to "get a couple of people’s eyes," before an injury ended his football pursuit.

Now the 26-year-old Chicagoan has gone headfirst into the other thing that had been brewing in the back of his mind for a long time. Fighting. And like so many prizefighters today, he got his first taste of cage-fighting by accident. In his case, it was because he happened to be a warm body on hand for an event when a warm body was suddenly needed to compete.

"I had always played football and rugby growing up," he says. "But, in regards to getting into fighting, I actually went to an event with a couple of my friends. My friends were competing in MMA and had been for a while. I went to an amateur event, and I was sitting in the back room, and one of the heavyweights got hurt. They asked, would anybody be willing to fight? And they kind of looked around and my friend’s coach said, well I’ve got a guy…he’s never fought before, but he’s a heavyweight. So they gave me a pair of shorts and a cup, and I went in there to fight. I won in like 15 seconds. That was kind of it. I got kind of hooked."

Hood will make his Bellator debut on Friday, Aug. 28, at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, for Bellator 141. He’ll be fighting Raphael Butler on a little over a month’s notice, which means he will have cut down nearly 30 pounds from his walking around weight of 293. To see him is to behold a 6-foot-3 specimen, an imposing figure with guns like that of a circus strongman.  

And through 11 pro fights, he has acted the part. In all 11 fights, nine times he’s knocked somebody out in the first round. Twice he himself has been finished in the opening round. As a feast-or-famine fighter, he’s not afraid of a brawl. Which is also why he wants to at some point fight get his hands on fellow Bellator heavyweight, Kimbo Slice.

"We were supposed to fight in North Carolina, I forget the name of the event, it’s been a while now," Hood says. "It was lined up, and I was ready. This is a guy I’ve wanted to beat up for a while. It fell through for whatever reason, his team didn’t want it because…what I’m guessing is they were talking to Bellator, and he didn’t want a fight that he could lose.

"But I’m hoping that once I take care of business, they’ll let me beat him."

Hood says he’d also like the chance to bash pro wrestler-cum-martial artist Bobby Lashley at some point, too, but that he’ll get to them both in time. Given his kickboxing fighting style and power, those match-ups could mean something to Bellator president Scott Coker in the near future. Especially if Hood continues to knock people out the way he has been. If you glimpse his highlight reel, you’ll see some pretty vicious stuff. He won his last fight via a monstrous slam.

He says he hopes to showcase that viciousness in his Bellator debut against Butler.

"I know [Butler]’s a former pro boxer, and from what I know he was pretty well accomplished coming into MMA," he says. "He’s a technical guy. He has good clean hands, good clean boxing. For me, I just kind of think the bigger difference for this fight will be chopping down wood. Just chopping him down and making him pay, everything that’s open – shoulders, elbows, forearms, legs, body. Anything that’s open. I’m pretty powerful. When I throw things I try to put it through your body. I don’t try to stop at whatever I hit."

Hood’s name preceded him a little bit to get to the Bellator cage. He trains with UFC fighter Ricardo Lamas at Team Topnotch in Chicago, and has spent a few months with the Blackzilians in Florida. The latter was open for him to join full-time, yet Hood has opted to stay in his native Illinois for the time being.

He says he thinks Bellator is a good fit for him, given the platform of Spike TV, the promotion’s ideology to book tent-pole fights and its current crop of heavyweights.

"I think Bellator’s on the rise to doing big things," he says. "They’re doing big things already but I think they have a lot of big things upcoming.

"As far as the heavyweight division goes, I respect everyone. It’s open. I seems pretty open to me, no staples anymore. You have guys — the heavyweight champ lost to a light heavyweight, and then got beat up again. You’ve got guys like Kimbo Slice coming back in, and you got people going crazy over him. It’s definitely a great division to be in, you can rise up. Might be three or four fights before you’re fighting for a belt."