Penn State alum Lawson loses pro MMA debut

Jimmy Lawson, former NCAA All-American heavyweight wrestler, came out on the losing end in his professional mixed martial arts debut this past weekend.

Lawson lost a unanimous decision to Said Sowma, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, in a preliminary heavyweight (265-pound) bout at Titan FC 54: Soares vs. Franca at the Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Friday.

Jimmy Lawson (Photo/Bill Ennis)
Lawson brought an impressive wrestling resume to his pro debut. He was a three-time New Jersey high school state champion -- the first heavyweight to win a trio of consecutive titles since the World War II era -- as well as a freestyle senior national championship. After a two-year stint at Monmouth University where he concentrated on football, Lawson transferred to Penn State, where, in two seasons, the Garden State big man crafted a 38-10 record -- a 79% career winning percentage -- and finished as an All-American (sixth) at the 2015 NCAAs as a senior.

For the past year, Lawson has been training at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, Calif., honing his MMA skills with Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez, and Luke Rockhold.

Despite Lawson's mat credentials, his pro MMA debut garnered little coverage at most websites. One exception was, which described the match action in a single sentence: "Sowma defended each of Lawson's increasingly frequent takedown attempts for the duration of the fight."

The article went on to put the former Nittany Lion mat star's loss in perspective.

"While there's absolutely no shame in losing one's MMA debut, Lawson's loss illustrates a difficult reality: sometimes, 'checking all of the boxes' doesn't translate to instant success. Lawson is a beast of a man, a three-time high school wrestling champion, a Penn State wrestling alumnus, a fighter out of the prestigious AKA gym, and a fighter cornered by Luke Rockhold. Yet still, despite all of those components, he was unable to get past Sowma."

With the loss, Lawson is now 0-1 ... while Sowma improves to 2-1.


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