For Lorenz Larkin, it’s not about world titles. It’s about staying active, and keeping the old school mentality of fight sports intact.
Larkin returns to welterweight to face 15-1 Russian standout Mukhamed Berkhamov this Friday on the main card of Bellator 283. The event takes place at Emerald Queen Casino and Hotel in Tacoma, Wash., and airs on Showtime.
“The Monsoon” has won six straight in a mix of bouts at 170 and 185 pounds, but the 32-fight veteran feels like the combat sports landscape has lost its way since he made his pro debut in 2009.
“Once the fandango s*** with Jake Paul and all of that s***, that era of everybody just fighting everybody is all gone,” Larkin told MMA Fighting. “Combat sports suck, and let me tell you why it sucks, and this is the honest to God truth from personal experiences: People don’t have a full understanding of combat sports, your usual people. For instance, there’s been many times where I don’t even tell people I fight. If they don’t know me, I don’t even tell them what I do for a living. I tell them I have a trucking company.
“Combat sports, it’s such a wide scale. If I tell people I fight that I don’t know, it’s like, ‘Oh, you do that UFC stuff, right?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ and then it goes into that thing where it’s like, ‘I’ve got a nephew who fights,’ and it’s nothing against it, but he might be an amateur, or a early pro, and sometimes you have to not be a dick, and say, ‘Well, I’m a little different than your nephew.’ I say this because, say you’re in the NFL, that’s it. ‘Oh, s***, he’s in the NFL.’ But it’s not like that for everybody, only certain people know that it’s the UFC, Bellator, PFL, ONE.
“I say this because when you have f****** YouTubers renting out Staples Center having boxing matches, and you have these fighters like Jake Paul who, let’s be honest, he can fight for where he’s at, and the guys he’s fighting don’t have a boxing background — for these type of guys to come in, it just changes combat sports,” Larkin continued. “It makes people think, ‘Oh, I can do that s***.’ You won’t be like, ‘Hey, dude, I’m an athlete, I can go f****** heads up with Warren Sapp or f****** Ray Lewis.’ You wouldn’t think that. You’d be like, ‘F*** no.’”
The biggest issue Larkin has with this new age of combat sports is that, in his eyes, it almost discredits the roots these sports were built upon. When the sport of MMA was trying to get off the ground, few viewers would watch the bouts and think to themselves, “I can compete with these fighters.”
That’s a big problem in Larkin’s eyes, since he believes up-and-coming fighters could be skipping pivotal steps along the way to maximize their potential.
“It’s just hard because those guys just come over to our world, to combat sports, and they think they can fight,” Larkin said. “These motherf******, if they want to come in, put them with somebody serious serious. Put them with someone who can really box, if they just want to box. Put them with a real boxer, not just some bulls***. It’s just a s***** era right now, man.
“It’s a different era now, and not for a good reason,” Larkin continues. “I just like to fight, and as long as I get to fight, I don’t need to do anything else. But the era now is just talk — talking and picking the right fights for yourself, not necessarily challenging yourself, but getting the easiest fights there are for your style so you can grow your social platform. That’s what it’s all about right now, that’s the era for most fighters.
“Now guys aren’t necessarily asking for the top guys, they’re trying to talk a lot and get matched up against guys that aren’t maybe on their level yet, and then skip the beef in their weight classes off of their hype off social media and their fans. It’s more so taking the easier fights, talking a lot of s***, creating drama, and getting the fan base to get behind you so you can skip the tough fights, and get the big fights. If you lose, you lost to the champ, but you skipped over everybody.”
Larkin is well-aware of the high-risk, low-reward challenge in front of him, which is why he didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“These are the guys that everybody f****** ducks,” Larkin said. “Journalists, reporters, and all of these other guys, they know what’s going on, but these are the guys nobody wants to f****** fight — especially if they’re in the rankings, because nobody wants to risk their ranking. These are the guys nobody wants to fight. These are the guys when fighters get a phone call, ‘Hey, how about fighting this guy?’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, that guy doesn’t match our style, let’s get more of a [better] stylistic matchup.’ Those are the usual turn-downs of these fights.
“Eventually, this guy will be in the top, but nobody wants to fight him right now. To them, why risk it on someone none of the fans know? And that’s the era now, if this guy that nobody knows beats me, then it’s like I got beat by nobody. To me, that’s just bulls***. I’d rather fight these dark horses right now, then wait. I don’t know, I’m not from a different era.”
Following his Bellator 229 win in October 2019, it seemed like Larkin would be the frontrunner to challenge for the welterweight title. Three fights in two different weight classes later, the 35-year-old hasn’t gotten his second opportunity to fight for Bellator gold.
In this chapter of life and fighting career, just keep giving him fights and Larkin will be content.
“At this point, f*** it, just keep fighting me. I don’t even care about the title anymore, it’s more about keeping me active,” Larkin said. “I’ve literally been trying for eight years to fight at least three times in a year, and that s*** never happens.
“But for this fight, my thing is that I’ve had a great camp, I’m looking and feeling good, no injuries, and I’m going in feeling really good. As long as I have a good camp, I feel like I can fight against anybody, and hopefully he’s had the most perfect camp he can have because he’s getting 100 percent of me. I’m going to come out with the dub, and have a seven-fight win streak.”