Justin Lawrence Jumping Headfirst into Bellator Featherweight Pool

Since a disappointing run in the UFC a couple of years ago, featherweight Justin “American Kid” Lawrence has been building himself back up in the RFA in order to return to a big stage in MMA.

Most recently, Lawrence defended his RFA 145-pound title against Sam Toomer in April. It’s a fight he feels added some needed experience for his step back up.

“The biggest thing was training for five rounds,” said Lawrence. “People think it’s just two more rounds, but it’s 25 minutes fighting another human being who is equally in shape and knows how to move and defend themselves just as well as I do. It’s a whole other animal.

“I feel that five round fights really make you as a fighter. Your discipline comes through and it tests you (of your resolve) to want to be a fighter.”

With his win over Toomer, Lawrence earned his return to MMA’s big stage when he signed with Bellator shortly after his title defense. If anything, a step up to Bellator has Lawrence wanting to right the mistakes he made in his go around with the UFC, where he suffered the only two losses of his career.

“Every fight is the most important fight,” Lawrence told MMAWeekly.com. “I feel like you have to win every fight in MMA. There’s no room for error. There’s no room to lose a fight.

“Very rarely will you see anybody go undefeated in MMA. You have to learn from losses to better yourself as a fighter. I just want to win all of my fights and stay humble and stay hungry.”

For his promotional debut at Bellator 138: Kimbo vs. Shamrock on Friday in St. Louis, Lawrence (7-2) will take on his most experience opponent yet in Sean Wilson (34-25) in a feature featherweight bout.

“I can’t stand there and go toe-to-toe with this guy,” said Lawrence of Wilson. “He’s got a super-strong overhand right that you have to respect.

“I’ve got to go out there and be fast, move when I throw my punches and my kicks. I’ve got to score points while I’m looking for takedowns and looking for the finish.”

Lawrence feels that a win on Friday will be a good one to build off of as he seeks to face increasingly better opposition during his time with Bellator.

“I’m looking to get my toes wet (with this fight) and test myself against some heavy guys in the weight class,” said Lawrence. “Bellator is starting to put together a roster at 145 pounds and the water is only getting deeper.

“I’m not looking past Sean Wilson, though. Once you do that, people can mess you up, so I’m focused on this fight. I’m looking to get this W and hopefully fight another tough fighter before the end of the year.”

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