MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon resident David Lashley is very familiar with mixed martial arts. After all he holds two black belts. When he travels to Mansfield next Saturday night (July 18), however, he will be stepping into new territory.
Lashley will be on the card for Mansfield Mayhem 8, a mixed martial arts event which will be held at the Richland County Fairgrounds.
Competing in an MMA event will be a little different than what Lashley is used to, but his training has prepared him for what he will face.
“I started at Annarino’s Martial Arts School, and earned my black belt from Master George Annarino,” said Lashley. “I really got into watching judo because I liked the throws and some of the different things. I went to a seminar put on by John Saylor, who developed Shin Gi Tai jiu-jitsu. He was the Olympic judo coach for several years, and at one time, was No. 1 in the world in heavyweight judo. I started working with him and got my black belt in Shin Gi Tai, which is based on both jiu-jitsu, judo and sambo.”
It was Lashley’s experience with Saylor and Shin Gi Tai that began to spark an interest in MMA.
“Working with John gave me my first taste of what mixed martial arts really was before it was ever famous,” said Lashley. “John was a bare-knuckle karate champion, he was a judo specialist and he wrestled in high school. He took all of that and put it together into Shin Gi Tai jiu-jitsu. I’ve been fortunate to train with guys who fought in the UFC because they would come and train with John.
“I took more of a liking to jiu-jitsu, and that’s when I started to get more into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is mainly what I teach at Body Basics (Health and Fitness Club) through Team Link. I’ve been fortunate to train with so many great people.”
Lashley, through his academy, doesn’t encourage MMA fighting. He does have several students who have made the jump into competition, however. Because of them, he is taking his shot in the cage.
“I actually don’t have a mixed martial arts class, but we teach all phases of mixed martial arts,” said Lashley. “We have guys that combine it into mixed martial arts; I have a handful of guys that do fight in the cage, and it is one of the reasons I thought I would give it a try.”
Lashley has competed in many tournaments, and has witnessed a mixed martial arts match firsthand. That led him to jump at the opportunity when it arose.
“I really enjoy the sport a lot. I like the competitiveness,” said Lashley. “I’ve never did any competition like this that has been sanctioned. We used to go to cage fights 10 year ago, and they weren’t sanctioned. You had to pay an entry fee; it was different then. It was a lot like a karate tournament. Now, Ohio sanctions these events, and there are rules you have to follow.
“I just felt like I needed to do this. I’ve competed a lot, but nothing has tested all of my skills at once.”
Troy Oney, Lashley’s opponent, is no stranger to MMA matches. Oney competed in the Mansfield Mayhem 6 on Nov. 18, 2008. He lost to Marcos Fang-Tac by technical knockout at the 1:42 mark of the first round.
“I kind of know my opponent a little bit; I beat him in a jiu-jitsu tournament,” Lashley said. “He was wanting to compete, and he was looking for an opponent so I volunteered. I don’t want to say it is a grudge match, but I don’t think he cared for me beating him. I think that is what sparked it. I kind of remembered who he was.”
Lashley was the first to point out that just because he beat Oney once before, it means nothing when they get into the cage on Saturday. Oney has more experience in MMA and Lashley knows his opponent has some drive.
“I have to keep that out of my mind,” Lashley said. “This is not jiu-jitsu match. This is an MMA match, and this guy is going to kick me, punch me and knee me. He’s got motivation so I can’t rest on the fact that in one aspect of the game, I was able bet him that day. Maybe he was having a bad day; I don’t know. I don’t know his training habits.
“I have to stick to what I am good at. I have a game plan, and I have to stick to it. I don’t think it is real hard for him to figure me out. I have a jiu-jitsu academy, so he has to realize I want to take this to the ground. That’s where I feel the most comfortable.”
While many fighters dream of making it big, Lashley, who is 38, has no such thoughts. He simply wants to put himself in a position to see how far he has come.
“I’m not looking to make this a career; I have a full-time job,” said Lashley. “I enjoy teaching; it is just something in my life that I need to do. It will test my skills.
“The guys that you see in the UFC are elite athletes. I really believe they are on the same level as pro football players, baseball players, basketball players.”
Tickets for Saturday’s Mansfield Mayhem 8 are available by contacting Lashley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the door.