After an eight-month layoff, former WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley (7-1) returned to the cage on Friday night at the Fair Park Coliseum in Lubbock, Texas to face late replacement Karl Knothe (20-6) for the Shark Fights heavyweight crown. Early in his career, it wasn't a stretch to suggest Lashley would run over regional competition with his wrestling pedigree and enormous size, but recent match-ups have shown massive holes in Lashley's know-how and conditioning level.
None of those problems were the case on Friday night. Lashley, who has been training extensively under Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix finalist Josh Barnett, submitted Knothe in the first round with a kimura, something Barnett had drilled into the mind of Lashley for weeks prior:
After a struggle, Lashley caught Knothe with a kimura, or - if you're a catch-wrestling type of person - a top-wrist lock.
Who drilled the sequence that led to the submission? One "Warmaster."
"It was exactly what we working on, from the transition to getting into it," Lashley told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "Step by step we went over that same series, like, maybe hundreds of times."
Friday's win is the second consecutive victory for Lashley, whose opponent for the Shark Fights heavyweight title bout changed three times before Knothe was confirmed as an opponent. Several proposed bookings this year also fizzled.
Lashley moves to 7-1, and he plans to continue training with Josh Barnett and Erik Paulson. While Lashley's past issues haven't been forgotten simply because of one win, it's interesting to see Lashley come out victorious in a manner that indicates Barnett's training methods are working. Can Lashley become a legitimate threat in the heavyweight division? We'll find out over the course of the next year.