Bobby Lashley is 5-1 in Mixed Martial Arts competition. He started his career off with a 5 fight winning streak. He lost his fight in pretty embarrassing fashion to Chad Griggs who had not fought in nearly 16 months. Griggs' most recent fight before that one was 17 months prior. As soon as Bobby lost that fight, the majority of discussion I read (some things even written by myself) was about how overrated he is and how he will amount to anything special. He certainly will never be of championship caliber. He might as well go back to Sports Entertainment.
Is this really what should be expected of Bobby Lashley? To be an immediate title contender? Even a perennial or future title contender?
Bobby Lashley is a crossover athlete. He was a former real and then fake wrestler. He has not spent a significant amount of his life studying any of the martial arts other than wrestling. Lets take a look at how some other athletes who have transitioned from other sports have fared in the ring or cage:
Johnnie Morton -
Morton was an NFL wide receiver from 1994-2005 and was a 1st round draft pick out of USC (boooooo). He was knocked out in 38 seconds by Bernard Ackah at K-1 Dynamite USA (The same event featured Jake Shields, Sakuraba, JZ Cavalcante and some guy named Brock Lesnar). As if this was not bad enough for Morton, he would refuse to take his post fight drug test. He was denied his purse of 100,000 dollars and then suspended indefintely. He has not been heard from since in MMA.
Michael Westbrook -
Another NFL wideout, Westbrook was the 4th overall pick in the 1995 draft. The former Colorado Buffalo, who was on the receiving end of Kordell Stewart's famous Hail Mary touchdown pass, took up BJJ after his retirement from football. He won national and international BJJ comps as a brown belt. His MMA record stands @ 1-1-1 with a RNC victory over Jarrod Bunch, A TKO defeat at the hands of Travis Browne and a No Contest in his fight against Nick Gaston after Gaston kneed his testicles up his rear end and Michael could not continue. Westbrook was last seen on MTV's Bully Beatdown and has not had a professional fight since July of 2009.
Satoshi Ishii -
As a Olympic gold medalist in Judo, Ishii has a very solid martial arts base to build upon. He was rumored to be joining the UFC but that never materialized. His professional MMA record is 2-1 with victories over Tafa Misipati and The Voice's fantasy boyfriend and frequent announce-gasm giver, Minowaman. Ishii had an exhibition bout in Hawaii in which he was DQ'd for continuing an onslaught of strikes on his downed opponent after the referee stepped in.
These are only a few examples but I think it is enough. Bobby Lashley, at this stage of his career, is doing very well. Not only as a crossover athlete/celebrity, but as a mixed martial artist. He gets an unfair shake because of one man. That man is Brock Lesnar.
Bobby never stood a chance. There was no way in hell Bobby was going to come along and be the "Black Lesnar" of the MMA world. So many fans hold Brock Lesnar's accomplishments as the litmus test that Bobby Lashley must pass in order to be considered a successful fighter. Just because Brock and Bobby both came from WWE. Westbrook and Morton were both household names in the their respective sports. There was no expectations for Westbrook and Morton to immediately go into the MMA world and set it ablaze. But Bobby Lashley, you better do that.
Bobby is being held up to an unreachable standard. He is not Brock Lesnar. He does not have the UFC promotional machine behind him. He has brought himself along slowly fighting progressively tougher guys. Nobody shits on Cain Velasquez for being brought along slowly and taking his time as it refers to his career arc. People sure do disparage Bobby Lashley for the exact same thing.
Whether or not Bobby's MMA career is over today or not, he has been successful. A 5-1 record over your first six fights is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. His progress and abilities are his and his alone. They should not be diminished because he is not Brock Lesnar. He could be Johnnie Morton. I say he has done pretty well for himself and I look forward to the rest of his career.