Eric Lawson | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
In a perfect world, Eric Lawson could focus entirely on his career as a professional mixed martial artist. Alas, no such world exists, at least not yet.
Lawson, who works as a mortgage planner, will meet American Kickboxing Academy representative Ron Keslar in a preliminary matchup at Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Cyborg” on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The middleweight has designs on someday surrendering his day job for life as a full-time fighter, but, for now, he cedes to the need to make ends meet.
“I would love to [fight full-time],” Lawson told Sherdog.com. “That’s the goal, but I need to be able to make enough money through MMA to dump the job.”
Based in Concord, Calif., Lawson owns a 5-1 mark inside Strikeforce, so he has made the most of what some might consider a less-than-ideal setup. In fact, he believes his two jobs work in concert with one another.
“It’s a really good compliment,” he said. “I get stressed out and pissed off from dealing with banks all day, and after work, I get to punch and kick people for two hours.”
Still, it creates a hectic schedule.
“It’s tough,” Lawson said. “I’m training at least twice a day, morning and night, four to five hours a day, six days a week. I definitely put enough time in getting ready for my fights.”
Lawson -- who, because of a knee, elbow and rib injuries, has not fought in nearly a year -- expects a stern test from Keslar, who trains alongside UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and UFC welterweight contenders Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick at the American Kickboxing Academy. Keslar will enter their matchup on a two-fight losing streak.
“I know he’s got a strong wrestling background,” Lawson said. “He wrestled all through college, and he’s going to have good jiu-jitsu. Anybody out of AKA is going to be a tough opponent who is conditioned to fight three hard rounds.”
Lawson views his bout with Keslar as a next step towards achieving his professional goals.
“I want to be able to support myself and make a comfortable living,” he said. “I want to work my way up to fighting for a belt and get my name out there to where I can open my own gym someday.”
Lawson trains out of the Combat Fitness camp under UFC veteran Gil Castillo, who “has been in the fight game a long time and does a great job putting MMA and jiu-jitsu together.” The 29-year-old has also spent considerable time training with Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and top UFC welterweight title contender Jake Shields.
“It’s awesome,” Lawson said. “It’s motivating. I’ve seen their progression. It makes the goal seem tangible.”