Lorenz Larkin’s 2019 didn’t turn out quite the way he expected.
The Bellator welterweight passed on a primary spot in the promotion’s grand prix, thinking he’d stay more active. Then a back injury took him out of a March fight against ex-champ Andrey Koreshkov.
In other words, exactly the fate he was trying to avoid.
”I was in this kind of limbo going, ‘When am I going to fight?’” Larkin told MMA Fighting.
Bellator eventually rebooked the Koreshkov fight for Oct. 4 at Bellator 229. Larkin figures if he can get in a few paydays in the next three months, this year won’t be a total wash. But it’s not looking great.
Had he not invested in businesses other than fighting, Larkin might have been more stressed about hanging out on the sidelines. He is the co-owner if Premiere Logistics, a trucking company, and also owns an amateur MMA promotion in Southern California.
The companies make Larkin less reliant on income from fighting. They’re also a safety net that most fighters don’t possess.
”My worst fear is to be that old guy that’s fighting for check to check just because they don’t have nothing,” Larkin said. “A lot of these fighters, they don’t think about none of that s*it. They think they’re going to be fighting until 45 for all of this money.
”I love fighting, but I love business, too. I’d rather get out when I feel like it’s time to get out. Not when the promoter’s like, hey, I think it’s that time.”
Right now, that moment is not even close to imminent. Larkin considers himself a perennial contender as long as he’s fighting and beating talent like Koreshkov, an opponent he claims is widely avoided among other welterweights in the division.
Larkin’s thought is, why not take out the toughest guy no one wants to fight?
”Only (Ben) Askren and (Douglas) Lima (have fought him),” he said. “I don’t count Benson (Henderson), because he’s a 155er. I don’t understand why other guys haven’t fought this guy. The only thing I can come up with is he’s a hard fight. You beat him, and you’re not beating a big name.
”That’s the thing about this time in MMA. You want the big fights with the big names. It doesn’t matter if you suck or not. You want your name to get out there.”
Larkin, a UFC veteran with wins over Santiago Ponzinibbio, Neil Magny and current “BMF” contender Jorge Masvidal, is by no means an unknown commodity. But there’s no better spotlight magnet than the Bellator welterweight title, and if successful against Koreshkov, he’s well positioned to face the winner of the promotion’s welterweight grand prix.
Three weeks after Larkin touches gloves with the Russian, ex-champ Lima rematches current titleholder Rory MacDonald in the tourney final. The belt and a $1 million prize package are on the line.
Larkin did leave himself a bit of insurance in the competition, signing on as an alternate. If either Lima or MacDonald can’t make it to the finals at Bellator 231, he gets a crack at the belt and a seven-figure payday.
So maybe a near year in limbo wasn’t entirely a bad thing. It only drove him stir crazy – and that’s nothing but a typical year in the life of many fighters.
”I was thinking I was going to be super active, thinking I’d fight three or four times if I could get it in,” Larkin said with a chuckle. “But it didn’t turn out that way.”