Brock Lesnar vs Bobby Lashley is one of the headliners at tonight's 2022 WWE Royal Rumble. Their matchup for the promotion's world title is a highly anticipated clash of two massive and talented performers on the current roster. However, the bout also has some interest among MMA fans too.
The interest is not just because there is a major crossover between wrasslin' fans and cage-fighting aficionados. No, the fascination is brewed in the fact that both at one time left the world of fictional fights behind, took their athletic talents to MMA, and were each quite successful at it.
Their colossal clash, inside The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, will likely be an entertaining affair between two super-athletic 40-somethings. However, it does beg a question for some fight fans: If they took their quarrel into a cage for a real scrap today, who would win?
Who would win a Brock Lesnar vs Bobby Lashley MMA fight?
'The Beast's' MMA resume
Love him or hate him, but Lesnar (5-3) was a special MMA talent. With no amateur fighting experience, and just one win over a 2-5 competitor under his belt, "The Beast" jumped into the deep end of the sport and fought Frank Mir in just his second professional fight. Yes, at the time Mir was still building his way back from a career-altering motorcycle accident, but who faces a former UFC champion in their second fight, and Octagon debut?
Clearly, the UFC was not trying to build up the former NCAA D-I national champion slowly. They wanted to milk every cent out of his name value as a former multi-time WWE world champion and did not care how he came out on the other end. Yet, despite some novice mistakes in his submission loss to Mir -- a fight Lesnar dominated the majority of -- he persevered as a cage fighter. He would go on to win his next four fights, including a victory over Octagon legend Randy Couture for the lineal UFC heavyweight title. Beating "The Natural" by technical knockout in less than two rounds.
Lesnar followed up that win by brutally beating Mir in their rematch, and overcame serious adversity against Shane Carwin to show he had far more heart than given credit for when he was pummeled for much of that bout, and still won.
Lesnar's next three fights were less impressive, as he was obliterated in first-round knockouts losses to more gifted MMA talents Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. Then, his 2016 win over Mark Hunt was overturned after testing positive for performance enhancers, subsequently ending his fighting career for good.
'The Almighty' one's MMA resume
There are likely many wrestling and MMA fans out there who don't even know that not only did Lashley (15-2) compete in MMA, but he did so for eight years and was actually pretty good.
Although "The Almighty" did not compete for NCAA D-I titles, he was a multi-time All-American and national champion wrestler in the NAIA conference. He also had legitimate aspirations of competing for the US national wrestling team before a knee injury curtailed his hopes and eventually led to his transition to pro wrestling.
Unlike Lesnar, Lashley did not use his WWE fame to jump to a top MMA organization in 2008. He slowly worked his way up like any other prospective fighter, as he competed in MFC, Shark Fights, and Titan FC. He even had a short 1-1 run in Strikeforce during that time. In his late 30's -- prime years for MMA heavyweights -- he eventually worked his way up to Bellator in 2014. By then, he was viewed as a fighter with serious upside and was training out of world-renowned MMA gym American Top Team in Florida.
Lashley won all five of his fights under the Bellator banner -- two submissions and three TKOs -- and two in the first round. In using his mix of solid experience, wrestling, and uncanny strength he became a valid contender for the heavyweight title. But with the division still in the developing stage, under new management, a title fight never came and he would take a more lucrative opportunity to return to WWE in 2018 and end his fighting career.
The big knock on Lashely's career was a serious lacking in his competition. Although he mostly dominated his foes, he was never truly tested against elite-level competition.
Who would win?
Lashley would not be a striking threat on the level of Velasquez or Overeem. Vice-versa for what Lesnar could offer in return. However, the former WWE world champion would still be one of the better wrestlers the one-time UFC champ has ever faced. While also being equal in size, and having the fight experience to not make the same mistake Carwin made in punching himself out of a possible win over Lesnar in 2010.
That said, if you watch WWE programming today, Lesnar is still an absolute freak athlete. He has better wrestling credentials than Lashley, a three-inch reach advantage, is by far the best competitor Lashley has ever faced in a cage, and probably eeks out the former TNA Wrestling star in cardio.
Prediction: Lesnar by TKO, round 3
Who do you think would win in a cage fight between Lesnar and Lashley?