The longstanding speculation was that Lawal was headed to Bellator Fighting Championships. While that is accurate, MMAWeekly.com sources close to the situation confirmed that Lawal is not only headed to Bellator for mixed martial arts, but he’s also signing to perform for TNA, the WWE’s major professional wrestling rival.
It’s not surprising – following his Strikeforce release – that Lawal would sign on with Bellator, but it is out of the norm that Bellator would allow him to also sign with TNA. Most MMA promoters won’t mix their business with the world of professional wrestling for fear of consumer confusion over mixing the reality of their sport with the scripted story lines of wrestling.
Lawal’s availability stems from a positive drug test following his fight with Lorenz Larkin at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine in January in Las Vegas. He was suspended for nine months after he tested positive for Drostanolone (an anabolic steroid) metabolites, but was only released from his Strikeforce contract following a Twitter outburst over his treatment by Nevada Athletic Commissioner Pat Lundvall.
Then the wheels began rolling in on the potential deals with Bellator and TNA.
Lawal will be unable to fight for Bellator until his suspension in Nevada is over in September, but that shouldn’t affect his availability to perform on TNA’s Total Impact as soon as he is prepared to do so, which would likely require a stint training for the action of the professional wrestling ring.
His signing with both promotions does open the gate to several cross-promotional possibilities. While Bellator is currently on MTV2, in 2013 the promotion will move over to sister network Spike TV, the same network that airs TNA.
There has also been talk that with the move to Spike TV, Bellator could move from its Friday night weekly slot to a Thursday night slot alongside TNA.
Many fans and other promoters are likely to cry fowl if Lawal does appear for both promotions, and especially if they do cross promote their brands, but the possibility is there.
(Additional reporting by Travis McPherson)