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Justin Lawrence: It ‘took a couple days’ to get over Curran injury

Justin Lawrence: It ‘took a couple days’ to get over Curran injury

October 31, 2015

Justin Lawrence admits he was devastated when he lost out on the biggest fight of his career at Bellator 145.

Lawrence (8-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) was originally scheduled to meet Pat Curran at the Nov. 6 eventbefore a knee injury forced the former Bellator featherweight titleholder off the card.

Emmanuel Sanchez (11-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) stepped in as a replacement to face Lawrence at Bellator 145, which takes places at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The main card airs on Spike TV following prelims on MMAjunkie.

To go from preparing for a former champion to a lesser-known foe was an adjustment for Lawrence, he said. Not just because of a change in style, but because he was forced to accept that the gains of victory were significantly lessoned.

“It was a huge opportunity for me and I was really bummed out,” Lawrence told MMAjunkie. “I was really upset. It was the opportunity where I had everything to gain from that fight. Beating a guy like Pat would really solidify me and make the ripples in the division that I wanted. It took me a couple days to really let it set in and think. Once you have a name locked in your head you’re ready for that fight and that guy.

“When they gave me Pat Curran, I was so excited and so ready for that guy and to get the opportunity. I felt like it was meant to be. So I was definitely upset for a couple days. But I’m ready either way and happy I get to go in there and do what I love.”

After sulking over the lost opportunity, Lawrence turned his attention to Sanchez. “El Matador” is actually one fight removed from a loss to Curran and is 3-1 under the Bellator banner. Sanchez dropped a decision to Curran in June, and Lawrence said it’s his goal to do one better and earn a stoppage.

“I’m looking to impose my will and get in there and showcase what I can do it and do it better than Pat Curran did,” Lawrence said. “Changing my training wasn’t too much of a big deal because I think Emmanuel Sanchez is a good striker and comes from a good camp like Roufusport so I know he’ll be throwing a lot of kicks, a lot of punches and I’m ready for it. I’ve been dealing with that my whole life.”

A victory over Curran would have curried much favor in the Bellator featherweight division. With just one fight in the promotion under his belt, Lawrence was afforded a major chance to jump up the rankings and form an argument for a title shot.

Although Curran is no longer his opponent, Lawrence said he still believes an impressive victory will do a lot to show where he stands in the weight class.

“If I go in there and I put on a great performance there’s no reason why they would ignore me; they can’t ignore me,” Lawrence said. “I’m putting on great performances, I’m exciting and people are going to want to watch me fight. They love watching me fight. I think beating a guy like Emmanuel Sanchez does put me up there into title contention.”

Bellator’s featherweight belt will also be on the line at Bellator 145 when champ Patricio Freire attempts to defend against top contender Daniel Straus. There are a few others in the division vying for the next title shot, but an official No. 1 contender has yet to be determined.

Lawrence believes he could make a run at that spot with the right performance, but at the very least there’s hope a victory over Sanchez will set up the original showdown with Curran, he said.

“If I put on a devastating performance and I go in there and lay the lumber on Emmanuel, I can’t be ignored,” Lawrence said. “I can almost see them saying I need to beat a guy like Straus or a guy like Curran (before a title shot). I’m so open for that Curran fight. I would love to fight him in the beginning of next year.

“I’m not trying to look past Emmanuel Sanchez by any means because I’ve been in this fight game my whole life, and when you start overlooking people, they come to beat your ass. I would love to get my shot at Pat Curran and show everyone I’m here to stay and I’m here to hold that title.”

Lawrence said he’s picking Straus to win the title in the main event, which would be a serious shakeup to the weight class considering “Pitbull” has already defeated him twice. Nevertheless, Lawrence said he’s aware that title shots and fights with former champions will not be an option unless he defeats Sanchez, so the task at hand holds the entirety of his focus.

“I’ve literally knocked out Emmanuel Sanchez a billion times in my head and I’m ready to go out there and do what I love,” Lawrence said. “I want to show everyone how hard I’ve worked and how talented I am. Justin Lawrence isn’t somebody to play around with.”

Source: MMAJunkie