Dave Meltzer is reporting on the Wrestling Observer website that Bobby Lashley’s non-compete clause with World Wrestling Entertainment ended yesterday.

Many readers of this site are hardcore MMA fans who hate it when pro wrestling and MMA coverage cross paths, but the undeniable truth is that Lashley could be an impact player in MMA — should he choose to go down that path.

Being a former WWE U.S. champion and ECW heavyweight champion is meaningless when it comes to MMA, but I think his credentials as a former NAIA wrestling champion in college and his past training at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. are very relevant. The fact that he also served the U.S. as a member of its Army is also a plus for him.

At age 31, time is against Lashley. However, he has an existing fanbase thanks to his WWE background and he’s really a great athlete. He’s without question someone who could really make some money for an MMA promotion if he was managed properly.

According to Meltzer, Lashley’s first non-WWE appearance will be for Booker T’s PWA promotion on May 23 in Pasadena, Texas. While getting to wrestle on a smaller show in order to help out your buddy is nice, Lashley is eventually going to have to decide what he wants to do long-term. My assumption that he has two options: continue wrestling and sign with TNA, or train full-time in MMA.

Personally, I’m hoping he chooses MMA. Like Brock Lesnar, I think he can bring a lot of new fans to the sport.