by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
A natural athlete, Tom Lawlor first made himself known to mixed martial arts fans around the world with his stint on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter. Part of Team Mir, Lawlor won his preliminary fight against Ryan Lopez via rear naked choke, allowing him to continue in the competition and make his way into one of the most controversial seasons of said show.
Though he would eventually lose in the quarterfinals to light heavyweight winner Ryan Bader, Lawlor left a lot to be remembered.
More infamously known for ‘tainted’ fruits and a highlight reel knockout of good friend, teammate, and lightweight competitor Dave Kaplan, who claimed he couldn’t be knocked out, after a drunken debauchery filled rant.
Proving his worth, the Massachusetts native was invited on the undercard of the season eight finale this past December against fellow TUF veteran Kyle Kingsbury. Proving why he was a three-time NCWA (National Collegiate Wrestling Association) champion for the University of Central Florida, he earned the judges’ nod by defeating Team Nogueira’s unofficial leader via unanimous decision.
Making the move to the middleweight division, “The Filthy Mauler” will look to impress once again when he takes on fellow wrestling and Ultimate Fighter standout C.B. Dollaway at the historic UFC 100 event on July 11 in Las Vegas.
While a guest on the MMAWeekly.com radio show, the always-colorful Lawlor shared his thoughts on the decision to move to the middleweight division and how his time spent on the Ultimate Fighter hindered the movement.
“I learned it real early on in the season. When we got in the house and all the other guys, as most of you saw, were eating my food and I started looking around and I’m thinking ‘man, I really want to go after these guys and beat the crap out of them,'” explained Lawlor.
“But Junie (Browning) had already push-kicked me to the ground; he was a 155’er. I didn’t feel like picking a fight with these guys that were 225 and cutting to 205, so I’m like, Junie’s at 155, I’m scared to go down to that weight, those guys have good push kicks. These 205’ers are pretty big, so I think I’ll settle in between.”
A bout pitting two Ultimate Fighter veterans of adjacent seasons, the highly touted collegiate wrestlers at first glance appear to have all the makings of an exciting wrestling affair. While Dollaway presents several skills and attributes going into the fight, Lawlor could not ask for a better opponent… sort of.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better – well, I could have asked for a better match-up. I could have asked to fight like a 145’er or something, or 135, but even than victory is not guaranteed,” he joked.
“I’m real happy with the match-up. Stylistically, I think it works out well. Obviously we both come from a wrestling background. He’s a little more of a decorated wrestler than I am, but MMA wrestling is a little bit more different than amateur wrestling, scholastic wrestling. I think his offense, his wrestling offense, may not translate as well into MMA as some of the other guys that are a little bit more powerful. He comes straight forward.”
While Lawlor’s drop in weight could be the equalizer, as he may very well be the stronger and bigger of the two, what he is counting on is the precision and technique that he has undoubtedly been able to hone with time spent in the world renowned American Top Team camp alongside Thiago Alves, who is set to co-headline the card against Georges St. Pierre.
“In his fights, if you look, Jesse Taylor was able to take him down. Technically, he’s a better wrestler than Jesse Taylor. He was able to outwork Mike Massenzio, but Massenzio’s leg was busted up. I’m not saying that’s the reason C.B. beat him, but I’m sure it helped a little bit. I really think it’s a good match-up for me. He comes forward a lot and I think I’ll be able to exploit that a little bit.”
His own worst critic, Lawlor felt that his first fight in the UFC was of no indication of his talent or ability and looks at his upcoming bout with “The Doberman” as a chance to redeem some fan fair.
“If anybody even saw the (Kyle) Kingsbury fight, they would think that I am not the real deal. I would rather poke my eyes out with needles or wipe my butt with a cheese grater than watch that Kingsbury fight if I was a fan.”
Now with his last week of training winding down and time dwindling towards the fight, the now-Florida resident looks forward to a bout of epic proportions, both adorning his rightful spot on the UFC 100 card and a chance to make a name of his own in a crowded middleweight division.
“I promise to go out there and make this fight more exciting, put on a better show for the fans, for myself, for my family. I do it for the kids. I’m going to go out there and put on a better fight for the kids who are out there watching. It’s going to help me to go out there against somebody who was in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter, definitely.
“Definitely in this fight against C.B., he has a little bit more name recognition than I do, but I’m going to go out there and take it to him. I’m ready to fight.”