He is one of the most-popular American athletes ever to fight in Japan. Yet, he is still relatively unknown in his own home country, but in just a few days, Bob Sapp returns to fight in the United States.
Sapp is set to take on former WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley in the main event for the “Ultimate Chaos” pay-per-view on Saturday, June 27th. The fight pits two guys against each other who both have professional fighting and professional wrestling experience.
Sapp vs. Lashley is a match-up that Sapp does not feel will go very long.
“You’re not going to see a distance fight,” Sapp said. “It will probably be one round, maybe two because of my fighting style.”
At 6’5” and over 300 pounds, Sapp’s fighting style is centered on his striking ability and his high impact moves. He refined that style in Japan for both K-1 and Pride Fighting Championships, but he also participated for two pro wrestling organizations: New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Hustle.
Sapp knows why he became so popular in the Land of the Rising Sun.
“I really accepted the Japanese culture. I just sucked it all in,” said Sapp. “They’ve seen big guys before. I didn’t invent it. They’ve seen sumo. I go in there to fight.”
Having trained at the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling Power Plant, Sapp also has experience with professional wrestling in the United States. He wants to be sure nobody thinks the match-up with Lashley is anything but a true mixed martial arts fight.
“I think it is pretty risqué to do because Bobby Lashley is a professional wrestler, and I am a professional wrestler,” said Sapp.
“But this is going to be a big battle. It’s a great test on both of our parts, but obviously, it will be more on his part to see if he can come in and take the big punches or the big kicks.”
In the past, Sapp has been criticized for being more of an entertainer than a fighter. Sapp embraces that. He understands what it takes to be a draw.
“It’s about having a fighting style that is extremely entertaining,” Sapp said.
He believes the United States and the UFC are moving more towards entertainment in the fighting world instead of sport.
“Before, you heard a lot of ‘Bob is more entertaining’ – especially when the UFC began to rise,” Sapp said. “One of the things Dana White was saying is that ‘we are more sports oriented.’ But then they go sign Kimbo Slice up for the reality show.”
He also sees that former UFC champions that don’t have an exciting style are no longer fighting with the company. To Sapp, that proves that promoters are more interested in entertainment than pure athletic competition.
“Take someone like Tim Sylvia. He’s had some incredible wins in the UFC but now, he’s fighting Ray Mercer?” said Sapp. “That doesn’t make much sense.”
Without being involved in multiple parts of entertainment, Sapp believes it will be very difficult to draw a crowd. As a result, Sapp and Lashley are going to leverage their pro wrestling ties in order to help promote the upcoming fight. The two fighters will appear on an upcoming episode of TNA’s Impact.
“We’re going to do an announcement on June 23rd for TNA, ‘Bob Sapp vs. Bobby Lashley’,” said Sapp.
One of the main stars of TNA’s promotion is Kurt Angle. Angle often mentioned that he wanted to get into mixed martial arts, but there were never any concrete plans made. Sapp confirmed that he did indeed talk to Angle about a match-up.
“There was talk at one time about me possibly fighting Kurt Angle,” said Sapp, “but with his neck, it wasn’t going to happen.”
So now Sapp takes on another guy who is associated with TNA in Lashley. What the match-up between Sapp and Lashley will likely come down to is who is the more talented fighter. Sapp has a prediction for the fight.
“I see him as more of an entertainer,” Sapp said. “You’re going to see the big right overhand, and see he’ll go down. Then, the doctor will come in and stop it.”