(While the ‘Just Bleed’ tribute thrills the hardcore fans on the internet, it’s one of those jokes that doesn’t go over as well with the professional hot chick crowd.)
The thing to know about Tom Lawlor is that he’s just like you. Well, maybe not exactly like you. For one thing, he can fight. For another, he’s sitting on a $100,000 bonus check for Submission of the Night at UFC 100, where he choked C.B. Dollaway unconscious after one of the year’s most memorable entrances. But in other respects, he’s not so different from you.
He’s an MMA nerd who spends way too much time on the internet, posting in forums and pouring over the latest articles. He makes all the same inside jokes, loves all the same viral sensations, and has a great sense of humor, so much so that it’s difficult to get any real information out of him. While talking with him about his upcoming fight against Aaron Simpson on Monday night’s Fight Night card on Spike TV, I eventually gave up trying. It was still a fun conversation though, which is more than I can say for a lot of interviews with pro fighters.
CagePotato.com: So I was looking at your UFC.com profile today, just for fun, and I see you’re practiced in the art of Baboo Baby. Tell me, what’s that all about?
Lawlor: Baboo Baby is a deadly art that I have been granted a rank in. The master is a man by the name of Jack Skellington. It’s somewhere between being a very traditional martial art and being the most untraditional martial art on the planet. I’ve been training very hard in this style. It’s a close cousin to Harold Howard’s old style where he infused jiu-jitsu with karate. It’s also similar to the style that was brought about by Ranger Stott with RIP.
As I recall, RIP didn’t fare too well.
No, RIP didn’t. It’s a distant cousin, really. It’s a closer cousin to Harold Howard, who was in the finals of UFC 3. Many people forget that.
I haven’t forgotten that. Especially not after Harold Howard crashed his car into a casino in Niagara Falls.
That proves right there how deadly the art is. And that’s just his style of jiu-jitsu and karate. When you add in the elements that Baboo Baby has gone ahead and perfected, it’s doubly as deadly. Just really, really deadly.
If it’s that deadly, should we be worried about Aaron Simpson’s prospects for leaving the Octagon alive on Monday night?
No, probably not. Honestly, my goal when I go into the cage is never to hurt my opponent. I am a proponent of mass efficiency. If you watch the majority of my fights, against Kyle Kingsbury in the UFC, I don’t think I threw one punch. Against C.B. Dollaway, I threw a punch, but it didn’t hit him. So I’m kind of against violence, actually.
After your great entrance at UFC 100, has there been a lot of pressure on you to top that in your next fight?
Yeah, there is a lot of pressure on me at all times, not only from that, but also from the ‘Just Bleed’ homage. A lot of people put pressure on me. A lot of times it’s my own friends, and they put pressure on me by laying on top of me while I’m trying to sleep. They attempt to suffocate me with their girth. So there’s a lot of pressure on me, yes. Everybody wants to see me top that entrance. Apart from maybe doing the ‘Techno Viking,’ I’m not sure that I can.
Have people been giving you a lot of suggestions?
Yeah, now it’s the fun thing to come up to me and give me an idea. ‘I think you should do this,’ or whatever. The thing is, before I came out to ‘Who Let the Dogs Out,’ those people weren’t giving me ideas. I’m going to stick to my guns and I’m going to choose what I’m going to do. You gotta feel it. You can’t force an entrance. You have to feel an entrance.
Did you feel the entrance at UFC 100? And right after you thought of it, did you immediately think that you needed Seth Petruzelli in the role of the dog, to really sell it?
Well, the original thought was, it all begins with the song. You hear the song before you see the fighter. The opening to ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ seemed perfect since I was facing “The Doberman,” C.B. Dollaway. It would be quite ironic. But you can’t just stop at that. It would have been funny, maybe, but once you add in the element of, there’s a man, a grown man, acting like a dog and, wait a minute, he’s got a bone in his mouth, he drops it out of his mouth, then picks it up off the dirty Vegas floor and puts it right back in his mouth. That changes things. It ups the ante and makes things a bit more serious, and more spectacular at the same time.
You made the typical salary for post-TUF fighters in that bout, but then you got the huge $100,000 bonus on top of that.
It was 100,000 yen, actually. Most people don’t realize that.
Okay, that’s not quite as good, but still, where you having visions of running off to a yacht in the Mediterranean after getting such an unexpected financial windfall like that?
What’s funny about that is, I got the check and went to deposit it, and it bounced. So I’m still living off that sixteen grand I made from the fight. They keep promising me that they’ll get that hundred grand back to me, but so far I haven’t seen it.
You should really talk to someone about that.
I know. I think it would have helped with Christmas presents, but what can you do.
I heard that you want to go up to heavyweight eventually. How serious are you about that?
I’m 100% serious. In college, I wrestled for a club team but I wrestled a full NCAA schedule for the most part, so it’s not like I was wrestling girls in mud and putting that on my record. I wrestled against some pretty good competition, and I did it at heavyweight. I feel I can put the size on and maintain my speed. No matter what anyone says, really, like in boxing, heavyweights get more acclaim. Everybody wants to see heavyweights fight. There’s something so exciting and scintillating about being a heavyweight, because you’re really the biggest guy. You could conceivably just literally crush a 155-pounder.
I want to be in that group. I want to be 285 pounds of muscle, cutting down to 265 for the weigh-in. I want to make Mariusz Pudzianowski look like a skinny nerd. I want to make Brock Lesnar look like a pixie.
How long do you think it would take to put on the weight?
To put on the weight? Not very long. To put it on and look good? A little longer. It all depends on if the UFC grants me this wish. It’s like the Make-A-Wish Foundation for sick kids. This is my dream in life. If they make it happen, I would say it would take me maybe a month to get to 215, 200 and be in decent shape, and after that the sky’s the limit.
What are you weighing right now?
Right now? 243.
Wow. I worry about your ability to get to 185 by this weekend.
It’s a tough cut. I won’t lie to you. But I’ve signed the contract, so I’ll make it happen.
You seem to spend a lot of time on the internet, posting on the UG, stuff like that.
To tell you the truth, I spend more time on Red Tube. That’s probably the number one site I spend time on.
I’m not familiar with that one.
It’s, you know, a porno site.
Is there something special about that one?
No. It’s probably worse than the majority of ones people have found. What’s special is I can watch people having sex for free.
When you take a break from that to get on the forums, do you enjoy going back and forth with the fans?
Yeah, 100%. To tell you the truth, I’ve been on the Underground since it was SubmissionFighting.com, which was like ’98 or ’99, back when I was in high school. I’ve been lurking on that site for a long time. And now, it’s a dream come true for me to be in the UFC. I’m a fan, basically. I’m a fan who’s been blessed with the ability to fight. I’ve taken my lumps and I’ve got a pretty good work ethic, so I’ve been able to get to the UFC. But the fans on the internet, whether they train or they don’t, I’ve been in their shoes. Those are my people.
Now that you’re a fighter and not just a fan, does it bother you more when people bash fighters without really knowing what it’s like to be one?
No, I never really got into talking bad about fighters. At least, not publicly. A lot of times I’ll say stuff about people, but always behind their backs. I don’t want to get hurt by them. But a lot of times on the internet people want to come out and talk tough, but who knows what they’re doing it for.
Do you spend a lot of time reading about MMA on the internet?
Yeah, I go to all the news sites. I don’t know if you want to plug competitors, but I’m on them all, from Sherdog to Nightmare of Battle, which is just this one guy in Japan. I’m honestly more of a fan than I am a skilled fighter. If I couldn’t fight, I’d still be a fan. It just so happens I have the opportunity to do it and, somehow, through matchmaking, they’ve been able to find people less talented than me, which is mind-bottling. But I’m on pretty much all the sites, big or small. The one I visit the most is probably MatBattle.com, though.
Do you think Aaron Simpson is a step up in competition from C.B. Dollaway?
It’s hard to say if it’s a step up, because C.B. had notoriety coming from “The Ultimate Fighter.” But it seems like Simpson has maybe beaten the tougher fighters. C.B. has beaten some tough guys too, like Mike Massenzio, who’s a stud, and Jesse Taylor, but people see this one glaring hole in his submission defense. Aaron Simpson hasn’t put himself in that situation yet, so it’s hard to tell if it’s a tougher fight or not. But if I had to say, I would say…yes.
Since UFC 100 it seems like the internet fans have really warmed to you, either because of the victory or because of your showmanship. Have you noticed a major shift in fan support?
Yeah, I see a change in the amount of people who are supporting me on the internet. Before I fought C.B. I saw people saying, ‘Oh, Tom Lawlor’s going to get killed. What’s he going to do? C.B.’s a better wrestler,’ which may or may not be true, but I still went in there and won. Now it’s like people seem to think I’m a good bet. I’ve seen people say they’re going to put money on me against Aaron Simpson. Before, I didn’t have that. I’ve been the underdog in every fight. Now people want to bet on me, whereas before they just wanted the smart money bet.
Well, that’s all I got. Thanks for talking with me, Tom. Anything you want to add?
I don’t know if you guys plug sponsors…
Sure, plug away.
Okay, check out my gym that I co-own, JungleOrlando.com. A couple other places I train at, DTS.com, and also my friends down at the Freestyle Fighting Academy and one of their 300 websites, BestFreeTrial.com.
And naturally MatBattle.com too, right?
Yes. Actually, they refused an interview with me. I requested an interview with them and, I don’t know, I guess they didn’t want it.
Maybe you should stop sending them all your videos, then.
Yeah, I should probably stop sending those home movies. It’s just tough to resist, though, you know?