by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
When a fighter struts the ramp to the cage donning a cape and crown, entering under the moniker King Mo, a bevy of beautiful women at his side, the natural question is: Why isn’t this guy in the WWE?
Because this guy is a fighter. This guy is Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.
“I always wanted to fight,” he told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I actually had a WWE contract, but I turned that down to pursue my Olympic dreams and MMA. I could have done WWE. My whole life I wanted to fight.”
If you take a look at Lawal’s background prior to mixed martial arts, it’s again a little surprising that he didn’t go the WWE route. He was a state wrestling champion in Texas, an NCAA Division II National Champion, and came within seven seconds of making the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.
Then again, maybe it’s not so surprising he didn’t go the route of scripted matches. Lawal’s background is as much about competition, real competition, as it is about wrestling, maybe even more so.
He’s only been in mixed martial arts for a year and a half, but Lawal has amassed a 6-0 record, five of his wins by way of knockout. He holds finishes over Mike Whitehead and Mark Kerr, among others.
He’s got a simple answer for his success: he’s smart and works hard.
“I’m new to the sport, but I’m smart and I’m studious. I’m a student of the game,” said Lawal. “People think I’m just an athlete, that I don’t know what I’m doing, but there’s a method behind my madness.”
Lawal’s perceived madness is very much attributable to his demeanor outside of the cage. Aside from his ring entrance theatrics, he is known for talking a lot, but that’s just good salesmanship, according to him.
“I want people to care about this fight, so I’m being outspoken and being myself.”
But the entrances and talking aren’t some sort of psychological tactic for Lawal. That’s not where he feels his edge lies, particularly against Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi, who he fights Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn.
“I carry more power. My endurance is better. I think my pacing is better. I’m gonna give what he wants to take, and I’m gonna keep on giving,” he assessed of the match-up with Mousasi.
“He’s a smart fighter man, but I propose (problems for him) stylistically. Who can emulate me in training? I can pull anybody from kickboxing to emulate him and a good jiu-jitsu guy, but who can he get to emulate me? Nobody.”
Training with a strong team that includes Rashad Evans, Fabricio Werdum, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and others, Lawal indicated that his camp for this fight has been his best ever, but will it be enough?
As strong and confident as Lawal is, Mousasi will be his toughest test to date, by a vast margin. Lawal is four years Mousasi’s senior, but the Dutch fighter is far and away the more experienced fighter, easily earning his spot amongst the top light heavyweight fighters in the world.
Mousasi has been fighting since 2003, amassing a record of 28-2-1, dwarfing Lawal’s record. He has finished every single one of his victories. In fact, his only bout to go the distance was the draw. Mousasi has won his last 15 bouts, over the likes of Babalu, Mark Hunt, Melvin Manhoef, Denis Kang, and current Bellator champion Hector Lombard.
Lawal’s level of MMA experience doesn’t come close to matching Mousasi, but his wrestling pedigree reveals years and years of high level competition, so he’s likely not as far behind as statistics indicate. He’s surely not behind in his level of confidence.
Damn the statistics, Lawal can’t be swayed.
“I know Mousasi better than he knows himself, better than he knows me,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
“I think he’s a good fighter, but I think I’m gonna beat him.”