Here’s a word of advice to future opponents of Bobby Lashley–don’t make fun of his background in professional wrestling. Mike Cook found that out the hard way in the co-main event of Maximum Fighting Championships MFC 21: Hard Knocks. After spending the run up to fight week making fun of Lashley’s tenure in the WWE, Cook lasted a mere :24 seconds before being choked unconscious via a guillotine choke. The victory ran Lashley’s record in his brief MMA career to 3-0.
Perhaps Cook felt he was creating some sort of self doubt in the former WWE superstar by suggesting that he was out of his element in a real fight, but he turned it up a notch at the weigh in and in his ring entrance by donning a Mexican Lucha Libre mask. In prefight interviews, Cook had suggested that Lashley would soil himself once he entered the ring (though in not so erudite terms). That clearly incensed the massive 64 250 pound Lashley, who despite his inexperience in MMA is hardly the sort of individual prone to losing bowel control at the prospect of a fight.
Even after the opening bell rang, Cooks arrogant approach to the fight continued as he immediately clinched with his opponent as if he had no regard whatsoever for Lashley’s strength. Lashley immediately locked in a guillotine choke and basically yanked Cook down to the mat by his head. Once on the canvas, Lashley cinched it in deeper as Cook flopped around”partially in an effort to escape, partially in an involuntary muscle reaction as he sunk into unconsciousness.
After the fight Lashley gave his opponent a hug and flashed his trademark megawatt smile as if to say I told you so. In his postfight interview, however, he did slip in a final verbal jab toward his vanquished opponent saying that he didn’t come to play and that he is all business.
Despite the fact that mixed martial arts and professional wrestling have been interwoven from the beginning, the American Top Team trained Lashley has been singled out by less knowledgeable fans. Against his next opponent, Bob Sapp, hell be facing a foe that has also spent some time in the worked environment of professional wrestling. In addition to his legit fighting experience in K-1 and PRIDE, Sapp has worked for several Japanese pro wrestling organizations and briefly held the prestigious IWGP Championship. The IWGP title has been held by pro wrestling legends such as Keiji The Great Muta Mutoh, Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami, as well as reigning UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
Even though Sapps days as a serious fighter are long past and he likely spends less time in the gym during a given year than Lashley does in a month, he does present an element of danger. Hes still got decent punching power, and his sheer bulk will be a challenge for Lashley who could give up as much as 100 pounds come fight night. Still, Sapp’s only victories in several years have been against overmatched and/or outsized opponents. Sapp remains a hugely popular personality in Japan, however, and simply by fighting him Lashley’s marketability in the lucrative Japanese fight sport market increases significantly.
Ross Everett is a freelance sports writer and highly respected authority on soccer betting. His writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sportsbooks and sportsbook directory sites. He lives in Las Vegas with three Jack Russell Terriers and an emu. He is currently working on an autobiography of former interior secretary James Watt.