Tom Lawlor is one of the few athletes who is competing in both wrestling and MMA at the same time. He is the current World Heavyweight Champion for MLW and also recently fought on the undercard of Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz 3.
Lawlor recently chatted with Nick Hausman just before MLW's Intimidation Games event in Chicago. The current MLW champ discussed which MMA promotion he's affiliated with at the moment and how his hand injury is coming along.
"I am not with the UFC," Lawlor said before adding that he still fights MMA but with other promotions including Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.
"They put on their MMA show [in November] and unfortunately I broke my hand in that fight. So, I've been recovering from that.... My left forearm, now my left knuckle - the first knuckle on that hand shattered into pieces and dissipated. But now it's all good."
Lawlor won the MLW heavyweight title from Low Ki last month and he again prepared to defend the title against the former champion at Intimidation Games. Lawlor revealed his true feelings for his challenger.
"Quite frankly, he's a pretender," Lawlor said about Low Ki. "Everybody that follows his career knows that. I'm not playing pretend as I'm the truth. I'm the real deal and we're gonna see that tonight.
As a mixed martial artist, Lawlor brings some legitimacy to the squared circle and he discussed the "aura" of MMA fighters in pro wrestling.
"To a certain extent, it brings an aura, I guess," stated Lawlor. "A lot of guys are apprehensive, not only when in the ring but also, I know, people that have been offered matches with me that didn't take the matches. Either because they think I don't know how to work, which is arguable.
"Maybe they think I'm too stiff. Maybe they think I suck. Maybe they just think I'm an MMA guy trying to do wrestling.
"I've run into basically every attitude, good and bad, to this point."
Another MMA fighter/wrestler is Josh Barnett who works as a commentator for New Japan. Lawlor and Barnett made their names in the octagon, but they will face off in the squared circle fairly soon.
"I have a match coming up against Josh Barnett in Las Vegas for a group, Quintessential Pro," Lawlor said of the March 14 event.
With so many wrestling promotions out there, Lawlor thinks that guys like him and Barnett who can work a shoot-style are going to become even more valuable.
"They're trying to scoop guys away and hold onto guys," Lawlor said of wrestling promotions. "That's either gonna weed out the people who shouldn't be involved in wrestling or force some sort of innovation.
"You don't wanna be some cheap imitation of somebody…you wanna be able to bring the best product you can. Guys who work more of a realistic-style or shoot-style are gonna shine on the independent scene and here in MLW too."
Lawlor says that pro wrestling has a little bit of everything these days and you can find all of these different elements in most of the promotions out there.
"One of the great things with wrestling nowadays is that it's like a potpourri with all these different styles, different gimmicks and different attitudes about what wrestling is and what it should be," stated Lawlor before adding that now you can get all of these different components in the same show "as long as it's not a WWE show where it's more homogenized."
When asked about what style MLW does, Lawlor stated that there was not one specific style and that's one of the beauties of it. He then talked about a recent deathmatch that he had that shows the extreme style matches that MLW can put on.
"I had a match with Jimmy Havoc where he had to go to the hospital afterwards," said Lawlor. "His arm cut so wide and deep that I could see the white flesh.
"You're gonna have something like that. You're gonna have high-flying. You're gonna have Pentagon and Fenix vs. AAA. Me and Low-Ki in a cage. You're gonna get a variety of different things and you don't always get that on other shows. I think that's what MLW does better than everyone else."
You can catch Lawlor every Saturday night at 9/8 CT on BeIn Sports as part of MLW's Fusion TV series.