Interview: ‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor ready to make long-awaited return in PFL

Tom Lawlor’s life has always centered around “people beating the crap out of each other.” Whether it was him doing the beating or watching others do it, Lawlor and combat sports are joined at the hip.

But “Filthy” Tom Lawlor’s fighting days are numbered. The 37-year-old has suggested this season in the Professional Fighter League may be his final professional fights. He has a professional wrestling career to fall back on, and perhaps a new trajectory in slap fighting officiated by Ric Flair.

Lawlor spoke with Fight Night Picks’ John Hyon Ko in a recent interview about his future in the fight game, a USADA suspension that sidetracked his career and his upcoming fight with “Shoeface” Antonio Carlos Junior.

“This is how I make money,” Lawlor said. “This is my life and it’s going to continue to be my life in one way or another.”

When Lawlor steps into the cage on Thursday, April 29, in New Jersey for the second card of the 2021 PFL season, it will be his first fight since November 2018, when he lost to Deron Winn in a Golden Boy Promotions event.

Lawlor noted the inactivity in his career. He’s fought just three times since 2014. Part of that stemmed from a two-year USADA suspension after testing positive for ostarine in 2017. He has fervently denied the claims, saying it was a contaminated supplement. He was later released from the UFC.

“I will maintain my innocence forever,” Lawlor said. “If you look at the lay of the land after I was suspended, we’ve seen people get slaps on the wrist for greater infractions.”

During that suspension, many people gave up on Lawlor, he said.

“I gave up on myself a little bit,” he admitted.

But Lawlor, who has trained in some form of combat sports since 1997, found his way back to fighting and now has a chance to earn the $1 million PFL prize at light heavyweight.

He meets another former UFC fighter in Carlos Junior (10-5), whose craftiness on the ground should make for fireworks against the always entertaining Lawlor (10-7).

“I don’t get paid by the hour,” Lawlor said. “He’s probably going to to try to grapple me. He’s probably going to try to close distance. That’s exactly what I want.”

The fight is scheduled for the final prelim of the nine-fight card, broadcast on ESPN+ starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. Thursday.

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