Louisa fighter wins coveted belt
Lillard holds his newly attained belt after his title win on Saturday night. Submitted photo.
Louisa mixed martial arts athlete Robbie Lillard added an impressive chapter to his young career on Saturday by stifling opponent Shane Shumack with an arm bar submission victory in the first round to win Operation Octagon’s 155-pound championship in Winchester.
Though not yet 18 – Lillard’s birthday is in early July – the win is far from an opening act for Lillard. A 2014 graduate of Louisa County High School, Lillard has already fought seven fights, winning five of them, thanks to a toughness and versatility that was on full display Saturday night.
Beaten by the heavy punches of Shumack early, Lillard resorted to a ground game that revered momentum, and likely, the outcome.
“He was a very tough opponent,” Lillard said. “My plan was to go in there and strike with him, but he ended up beating me on my feet. I got him on the ground, and that ended up working.”
Though matches can go on for three rounds, Lillard finished off Shumack with 15 seconds still left in the first.
But, looking back at the match, Lillard said he didn’t quite perform up to his standards.
“I’m very disappointed in my striking in my last fight,” Lillard said. “It wasn’t where it should have been at all. I got hit with a lot of shots I shouldn’t have gotten hit with.”
Getting hit with a shot he shouldn’t have is what first propelled Lillard into the sport back in fifth grade. That’s when Lillard said he got in a backyard brawl with an older opponent and lost. Soon after, he consulted his father, a Muay Thai expert, for advice.
“I didn’t know what to do, and I was kind of embarrassed by it,” Lillard said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to fight, because I didn’t want it to happen again.”
Lillard has now used his skills in the ring for nearly four years, training at 8 Corners MMA in Louisa on a regular basis. Coming onto the scene as a 5’9 155-pounder and as one of the youngest competitors in the local area, Lillard now has the nickname – “Big Nasty” – and the determination one would expect from a seasoned pro.
To read the entire story, see the July 3 edition of The Central Virginian.