Muhammed Lawal (10-2 1NC), known to fans as “King Mo” is a mixed martial artist who fights for Bellator MMA.
Lawal began his career with a seven-fight winning streak before capturing the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight championship from Gegard Mousasi in 2010. In addition to his exploits in MMA, he also comes from an amazing wrestling background and is currently wrestling for TNA: Impact Wrestling.
King Mo is set to face Jacob Noe (12-2 1NC) in the finals of the Bellator 2013 Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament, July 31.
Lawal took some time out his schedule to do an interview with Fansided.com.
Fansided.com: How’s it going Mo? How are you doing?
Muhammad Lawal: I’m doing good man, just chillin.
Fansided.com: Right on, and you’ve got a fight coming up. You’re coming off a big win over Seth Petruzelli, a 95-second knockout. What are your thoughts going your next fight?
Lawal: Just to go out there. Do what I’ve been training to do and get the victory. It’s nothing big, just follow the instructions of my trainers and managers.
Fansided.com: You come from an impressive background in amateur wrestling. You’ve got enough medals and trophies to fill two closets. I also read that you were offered a pro wrestling contract before you started MMA. What kind of drew you to the sport? What drove you to compete in MMA?
Lawal: I was a fan of it. I’ve been following MMA since college. I used to go to Fighting.com back in the day where I used to follow my boys and watch them compete … and see what’s going on in the fight world. I followed King of the Cage. In fact I cornered Jeff Lindsey against a fighter named Romie Aram and then again when he fought Yves Edwards. I was a sophomore in college.
And then I started seeing some of the stuff in Brazil and Japan, and then Pride, I thought “this is what I want to do.” I’ve been a big fan of Japanese MMA. I didn’t just go into MMA just to win titles. I was a fan of it, and I was training in it, even though I was just a wrestler … I thought it was the way for me to go.
Fansided.com: Some of your earlier fights were in Sengoku and Japan. They talk about the differences between crowds in Japan versus the crowds in the U.S. What are some of the things you miss about competing in the earlier days in Japanese arenas?
Lawal: The Japanese fans are a lot more respectful. It’s like Dana White and how he looks at fighters – yeah I’m going to say his name Dana White – a lot of fans think it’s easy to do. A difference between pro sports and MMA, in pro sports like basketball, football and baseball, a lot of guys that are coaches, played. They understand what players are going through.
In MMA, there are guys who have never fought, never sparred or nothing and they talk like they’re experts and tell fighters what they’re doing wrong. It’s kind of funny and Dana is a smart business man … but some people they go out and they speak on fighting and they have no idea what it’s like to be in our shoes. I’m not there out bashing boxers because I know; I’ve boxed before with sparring partners. I’m doing it at their level.
I think people are saying it’s easy to fight because it’s a hot thing and everyone is fighting … I feel like people downplay it. It’s not easy, but people downplay the toughness and the technicalities and everything else. The work going into it, they downplay all that. They think we go out there and entertain the fans and they downplay what we go through.
Fansided.com: Let’s go to commentating. Invicta FC had another successful event on July 13. How did you end up getting tapped sitting in the commentating booth?
Lawal: I was lucky. Shannon Knapp, who’s a genius and she is doing a great job in Invicta, saw something in me and gave me an opportunity. A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m pretty knowledgeable in combat sports. I just don’t watch MMA and boxing. A lot of people don’t know that I understand that I know about combat. They just downplay me. I don’t go out there and try to play it off like I’m definitely knowledgeable; I just like to stick to myself. If people ask me questions, I’ll answer them, but for the most part I don’t put it out there like I know what I’m talking about. People look at me and think I’m a dumb fighter. That’s cool.
Fansided.com: What’s it like working with Julie Kedzie, but also Mauro Ranallo, who is probably the best play-by-play guy in combat sports?
Lawal: Julie, she is going to be a great commentator and she’s a great fighter. Mauro is the best. I told Maruo he needs to quit MMA and pick up boxing because I have never seen anyone call a fight like him in boxing, since Howard Cosell. He’s that good. He is that damn good. I’m impressed. Sitting next to him and hearing guys like Jeff Mayweather talk about him … Mauro, he’s good. He’s great and he’d be great calling boxing.
Fansided.com: Yeah he’s great. I loved when he called the fights in Pride. Just hearing the passion in his voice is great. Now in addition to doing MMA, you’re also in TNA. A lot of fighters have gone back and forth between wrestling and MMA. Josh Barnett, Dos Cara Jr –who’s a world champion right now – and Ken Shamrock. How are you planning on training in between MMA and doing pro wrestling?
Lawal: In between camps and in between fights, I go to OVW and train there. I also train in Future Stars of Wrestling as well. Kenny King is in Las Vegas, so I get a chance to roll with him. I’m trying to get in as much as I can. My goal is to be a TNA Hall of Famer. When it’s all said and done, I want to be a big impact on Impact Wrestling. I want to be influential and I want kids to be like I was when Sting and Ric Flair had their match in WCW. I want people to remember where they were when I was wrestling in the main events and I’m excited for the opportunity to do that.
Fansided.com: You were a pro wrestling fan growing up. Who were some of your favorites?
Lawal: My favorites were Sting, Ric Flair, Booker T, the One Man Gang – a.k.a Akeem – Jake the Snake, Great Muta, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff. I could just keep on going, there’s so many of them.
Fansided.com: Especially with the N.W.A. A lot of great talent back in the day. Kind of looking at the future, after Jacob Noe, and the light heavyweight title shot, would you prefer facing current champ Attila Vegh? Or do you hope Emannuel Lawson gets the strap so you could avenge that loss?
Lawal: I don’t care, I just want the belt. It doesn’t make a difference. I just want to fight for the belt. I don’t worry about who’s in front of me. If it’s Emanuel? Good, then I’ll get a chance to knock his ass out. If it’s Attila, I’ll get my chance to get the belt. Whoever I’m fighting, I’m fighting for revenge.
Fansided.com: Who are some of the guys who you’d like to face in the MMA cage or a pro wrestling ring, in the future?
Lawal: Anybody in MMA, it makes no difference. As far as pro wrestling, I wouldn’t mind having a match with Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, Robbie G, Bully Ray, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, James Storm, Jay Bradley. I want to beat them all. Jeff Hardy. All of them.
Fansided.com: Will we see you tagging up with anybody in the future?
Lawal: I wouldn’t mind tagging up with Kenny King or Rampage Jackson. We could become a faction. A three-man group called the “Knockout Kings.” Me, Rampage and Kenny King, going out there and beating people up.