This is the fifth in my series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and I’m very pleased to bring you the one and only, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. Lawlor is a veteran UFC middleweight, a former light heavyweight competitor on TUF 8, and a top ten pound-for-pound fighter when it comes to entertaining the fans before the fight. His weigh-ins and walkouts are legendary. But Lawlor’s no clown. Once the bell rings, he gives it his all and most of his wins, as well as his losses, have been great fights. Lawlor is coming off a very controversial decision loss to the Frenchman, Francis Carmont, at UFC 154 in Montreal. His next fight was just announced and should be against the Dutchman, Michael Kuiper, at UFC on FUEL TV 9 in Sweden, in April. Given what I know about Lawlor’s gustatory habits, Sweden is going to be down a few meatballs once The Filthy Mauler is done there. Please enjoy our conversation below.
Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts/combat sports and how do you feel like that has shaped your career?
Tom Lawlor: Well if we are talking about what really led to my interest in combat sports, it was professional wrestling of course. Despite the fact that it is predetermined, the premise of the sport in its infancy was much like MMA is today. On the purely MMA side of the coin, one of my friends named Al had a copy of UFC 2 when I was in 6th grade and I fell in love with it then.
JB: What exactly happened down in Fort Meyers, Florida in March, 2007, that led to your No Contest with Ariel Gandulla?
TL: I was driving forward on a takedown with double underhooks, we hit the cage and the door either broke or was never locked properly, and he fell out back first to the floor and was never able to recover.
JB: How did you and Seth Petruzelli first team up, and what makes you two so uniquely suited for each other?
JB: Besides your KO of Dave Kaplan on a dare, what are some of your favorite memories from your season of The Ultimate Fighter?
TL: Being able to order massive quantities of food, and have someone deliver it every day, FOR FREE!
JB: Of your eight fights in the UFC thus far, which do you feel was your most "complete" performance?
TL: None of them. Every fight has had a distinctive flavor to it and I haven't put together a complete performance yet. Some fights have been all wrestling, some were lots of standup. I truly believe my best is yet to come.
JB: You've often spoken about fighting at heavyweight. Is that because you want to eat a lot, or is there a more complicated master plan?
TL: Not once in my life growing up did I ever say to myself "I want to be the middleweight champion of the world!"
JB: You are renowned for your competitive eating. What have been some of your greatest accomplishments in that arena thus far?
TL: Well I just finished Singapore's hottest wings, the Level 35 at Sunset Bar and Grill a few weeks ago. I have also finished 5 lbs burgers, 5 lbs pizzas, eaten a 1 lb burger and 2 sides in 2 minutes, won a Bob Evans pie eating contest, etc. It is hard to juggle my passion for food with training because eating contests require a lot of recovery time.
JB: I have told you that your Apollo Creed from Rocky IV walkout at UFC 113 was by far my favorite walkout of all time. But what I think is irrelevant. Which of your walkouts was your favorite to perform and why?
TL: Any of them where I won the fight in quick fashion afterwards. The best one I've done was a New Kids on the Block walkout to "Hangin’ Tough" which unfortunately I doubt I will ever have footage of because it was before my UFC career.
JB: There are a lot of great middleweights out there for you to fight. Who are some of the ones that you would enjoy facing?
TL: Obviously the top guys, but coming off a loss that isn't going to happen so I look to fight pretty much whoever they ask me to.
JB: Last question, Tom, and I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. I think you still have a long fighting career ahead of you, but what long-term goals or plans do you have beyond fighting?
TL: Move into the woods and raise chickens while coming up with clever ways to not engage in personal hygiene. Oh and go on a cruise soon.
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