Robbie Lawler just gave someone at Fightland the sort of interview you’d expect from an experienced MMA fighter reflecting on his career. For instance, he talked about knowing that he wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter in high school, how he went through those inevitable “rough times,” and also what it felt like to be a young kid still “out there searching” while fighting the best fighters in the word. Sure, that’s all very nice. But there must be more.
“I was enjoying fighting, but I wasn’t . . . I didn’t want to be a part of the light. I just wanted to compete and have fun.”
Didn’t want to be part of the light, Mr. Lawler? Interesting. But let’s imagine for a moment that a man could compete, have fun, and still enjoy a very particular kind of light, say, in the privacy of his own home. Would you be interested in that sort of arrangement, Robbie?
“I didn’t really care if anyone knew what I was up to,” Robbie continued, feeling that invisible Xbox 360 controller forming in his hand. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and fight and compete and hide and play video games after.”
There it is. The only light Robbie Lawler was interested in during those formative fighting years was the glowing white background that filled his television screen just before those familiar letters became superimposed like video game magic. E. A. Sports. It’s in the game.
“I played one game. Madden,” he explained. “I’d really get into it. I mean I spent a lot of time playing. I would bring the Giants. If I had to play for a million dollars, I’d bring in the Giants. Tell my wife, ‘Don’t come down. I’m playing.’”
The lights. The letters. The voice of a kind old coach over-explaining the most elementary concepts in the sport of football. If you’ve experienced it, you know why it was more exciting than a rising career in mixed martial arts. Yes, that seven-fight winning streak at the start of his promising career was alright. But Madden.