Late last month, reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley was reportedly scheduled to appear at a North Korean wrestling event organized by Japanese Diet member and wrestling legend Antonio Inoki. However, in an interview with Middle Easy, Lashley explains he was unable to attend the event because of a scheduling conflict with his debut for Bellator MMA in September:
Yeah, [the Inoki Genome Federation] actually asked me to go there. The timing was just off. It was this weekend and of course I couldn’t do it because I got a fight the weekend after it. If they were doing it the weekend after I had fought, then I would’ve definitely entertained going.
Despite Lashley’s absence, Inoki’s event went on as planned. Inoki, like Dennis Rodman, whose basketball event in North Korea earlier this year was a major success, desires to improve relations with North Korea through sports. Over 13,000 North Koreans witnessed the Pyongyang event headlined by wrestler Bob Sapp. Supreme leader Kim Jong-un did not attend, possibly due to Lashley’s nonappearance.
Back in the states, Lashley’s Bellator debut also proved a success with a victory over heavyweight Josh Burns (see video below). Lashley now owns an MMA record of 11-2.