Lorenzo Hood plans on making an impression at Bellator 141. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Lorenzo Hood is a large dude with crushing striking power who has stopped everybody he’s beaten He’s also one of the best-kept secrets in MMA’s heavyweight division.
He’s only lost twice – one because of an injury – and the feeling from within Bellator MMA is that the sky is the limit for him. But virtually nobody knows Hood, a man who got into the fight game kind of by accident.
“I went to go watch some of my friends who were fighting in an amateur event,” Hood told Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “One of the heavyweights got hurt and the promoter came backstage asking if we knew a heavyweight who would fight. My friend’s coach said they had me, but I had never fought before [in an organized event] but I knew how to fight.
“So they wrapped my hands,” he added. “I went out there and I knocked the guy out in like 15 seconds.”
Hood, a native of the North Side of Chicago, spent the majority of the early portion of his career chasing a dream that involved flattening opponents, but not with his hands and feet. Hood was following the lifelong goal of one day playing in the National Football League. He never made the cut, but he spent many years honing his skills on the gridiron for the Indoor Football League and Arena Football League.
After having a tremendous start to his MMA career, Hood went on hiatus for nearly five years. Even though he was having success inside the cage, the life of a fighter toiling on the regional circuit in often absurd conditions wasn’t enough for him to stay where he was.
“The gap [of inactivity] on my record from 2010 to 2014 is because I went up to play football in Canada and because of the Arena Football League,” he said. “I played everywhere, man. Up in Saskatchewan, down in Orlando, Peoria, Chicago.”
When the dream of playing for the Bears , rather than the Blitz, finally fizzled out, Hood at least had a backup plan. Though he was originally hoping for the fame and riches of the NFL, he grew fond of what he considers a truer, purer form of combat in MMA. And by the looks of his results thus far since committing to fighting full time, he’ll be engaging in much more combat for years to come.
Hood will make his big-show debut against Raphael Butler at Bellator 141 on Friday night. Hood reflects with equal horror and amusement when talking about his journey to Bellator in the lowest-level MMA shows imaginable, but he’s glad he took that journey.
“Oh man,” he chuckled when asked about some of the shows he’s fought in over the years. “I’ve fought in shows that were literally held inside barns that had animals still in it. Another show had such a small venue that it had only one small dressing room for all the fighters. We all had to cram in there to change and get ready. I’ve been in other places that were freezing. I’ve had about nine opponents drop out, leave in the middle of the night, leave right after weigh-ins. It was crazy.”
Hood doesn’t have to worry too much about that for the time being, as Bellator is a well-established entity within the sport. He explained that he got the call from Bellator because they needed a heavyweight. He had been training in Florida with the Blackzilians when the opportunity arose.
“I think they had been looking at me for a while and my name was starting to get mentioned around the scene,” he recalled. “I was supposed to fight Jeremy May [at Island Fight 33], so I went down to train with the Blackzilians to get some great training. When I got down there, May ended up leaving in the middle of the night because he hurt his ankle, but I decided to stay there for a few months to improve my game.
“After being there for a while, Glen Robinson said to me that Bellator was looking for some heavyweights,” he continued. “So he sent them a highlight tape and they got back to him in a couple hours. A couple days later, we signed the contract.”
Next up for Hood is Butler, a veteran of six Bellator bouts. A former professional boxer who has taken on a litany of upper-echelon foes in the Sweet Science, Butler has only lost once in his MMA career. Bucking the trend completely of quality boxers unable to transition to MMA, Butler is by far the most experienced, most dangerous opponent Hood will have faced up to this point.
Hood doesn’t sweat him, at all. In fact, he can’t wait to test his skills against him.
“Obviously he’s a good striker,” he said. “Very crisp, clean, technical boxing and he should because he’s had like 30-plus pro boxing fights. I expect him to be tough and I expect him to hit hard. That’s what I’ve heard because I don’t really watch film of my opponents. I can’t wait.”
With both heavyweights possessing explosive power, Hood expects that his promotional debut will deliver the goods.
“No way,” he declared. “I really, truly believe this fight will be the fight of the night. It’ll be two guys going out there and beating each other up. He’s the boxer and I’m the kickboxer so we’ll go out there and see what style wins the fight. There is zero chance this fight will be boring.”