Listening for reaction to last night's NCAA title game, it was hilarious to hear folks trying to find some sort of negative angle. Put aside rooting interests, it's safe to say 99 percent of the viewers really enjoyed the back and forth game between Duke and Butler. Then this morning comes same old the tired act from ESPNRadio's Colin Cowherd and ESPN's Skip Bayless and Rob Parker. All three took a contrarian stance just to try and piss off some listeners and viewers. What's the point? Or have they simply lost touch with what it's like to be a fan? Which brings us to the bizarre criticism of heavyweight prospect Bobby Lashley displayed by some MMA bloggers.
Lashley won't be fighting on the Strikeforce CBS on Apr. 17 and the MMA blogosphere isn't pleased. Kid Nate (Bloody Elbow), Michael David Smith (AOL Fanhouse) and Jake Rossen (ESPN.com) are clearly all followers and probably fans of mixed martial arts, and they're not happy with Lashley's career path.
... but I can imagine the logistics in finding an opponent for Lashley that satisfies his need to be spoon-fed didn't help. Does Tank Abbott not answer his phone anymore?
The problem for Lashley is that he's very particular about the kinds of fights he wants. After Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he hoped to book Lashley against Brett Rogers, Lashley said that fight didn't interest him and instead he'd rather fight Alistair Overeem or Fedor Emelianenko.
Lashley isn't in that mix, and therefore he wants to fight easier opponents until he gets a shot at one of those two. That might not work for Strikeforce either, however, because Strikeforce doesn't want to pay Lashley the hefty salary that he typically commands if he's only willing to fight easy opponents like he did in his last fight, when he won a first-round TKO over Wes Sims.
Lashley should take some of the blame for his level of opponents thus far with Strikeforce but doesn't much of it have to do with the limitation of promotion's? Plus as a fan, I doesn't bother me if Lashley has a few more mid-level fights before he has to face one of the organization's big four (Rogers, Overeem, Fedor or Fabricio Werdum). I think those of us who cover the sport need to take a step back every once and a while and take into account the views of the casual or non-MMA fan as well.
Is it the worst thing for Lashley to have two more building block fights? That's the way it normally works with 5-0 fighters. Strikeforce jumped the gun and signed him early so if it costs Strikeforce a little more on the front end, then tough luck.
Kid Nate goes a step further saying he doesn't believe Lashley is much of a prospect and should stopped being compared with another former WWE wrestler:
[Brock] Lesnar is a natural heavyweight who's always competed in the biggest division. Lashley is a pumped up middleweight who has added mountains of muscle to his much smaller frame.
From his less than impressive performances against less than impressive competition, it's clear that someone like Brett Rogers would likely paste Lashley and put a quick end to his MMA pretentions. At the same time, Lashley has chosen to sign with a major MMA promotion and that entails facing major league competition. If Lashley doesn't think he's ready for the big time, why should anyone else care?
As far as the "pumped up middleweight" comment. I'd love to see someone spend a few minutes in Lashley's presence and say that. I've never once thought 'this is a guy who real can't carry his 255 pounds.'
As far Lashley not wanting to face top level competition yet, isn't he just being honest about where he's at? Lashley says it perfectly to MMAJunkie:
"It's the fans. I'm not saying all the fans; (it's) the hardcore fans," said Lashley. "They get on the forums and say, 'Bobby should be fighting Fedor.' But when Brock (Lesnar) got a title shot right away, they got pissed off about it. You can't please the critics regardless of what you do."
Again as a fan, I'm interested in seeing him fight in May. I don't find it too difficult to put aside matchmaking politics to get amped about the next Lashley fight.