by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Vitor Belfort, Bobby Lashley, Brett Rogers, Tom Erickson, Jeff Monson, Don Frye, and even… Tank Abbott?!
Well, now you can add Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal to the list of fighters that want to step in for Josh Barnett to fight Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction “Trilogy” on Aug. 1.
And who can blame him? According to a report from Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports, multiple sources say that Affliction is dangling a $500,000 carrot in front of potential opponents.
“Man, I want that fight,” Mo said Thursday night on MMAWeekly Radio. “History has shown Fedor’s had problems with smaller athletic guys that he fights. Bigger guys, he just rolls right through ’em. The smaller guys, or the guys that can move real well, give him problems.”
King Mo would definitely fit into the category of smaller, athletic fighters. He has floated around between 185 and 205 pounds in his professional career, which is marked by four wins and no defeats. But it is his fighting style and attitude that Mo believes makes him a good opponent for Fedor.
“I want that fight because I think I can win. I can beat this dude. Granted, he’s got heavy hands. Everybody has flaws. Styles make fights,” he stated repeatedly. “I can see my style causing him a lot of problems.
“I’m not a guy in survivor mode ever. I saw Cro Cop respect (Fedor) a little too much and fought to survive. If I go out there, I’m gonna try and take him out. Whatever it takes; slams, elbows, knees, whatever it takes I’m gonna try and win.”
Realistically, Mo realizes that his being called in to face Fedor is a long shot. He’s hopeful, but having fought his entire career thus far in Japan, skills or not, he leaves a lot of people in America asking, “King Mo who?”
“To me, anything is possible,” he said with a hint of resignation. “Right now, people don’t know who I am. I’m not a UFC veteran. I fight in Japan. People in America tend to be more UFC fans. So then people don’t really know me.
“(But) by the end of the day, the fans love me because I’m gonna bring it.”
All fingers are still pointing towards Vitor Belfort as the most likely replacement for Barnett. Belfort’s camp believes it is all but a lock, already doing rounds with the media.
But Affliction vice president Tom Atencio has remained steadfast, “Until you hear it from me, until I have a contract signed, they’re all rumors. Until you absolutely hear it from my voice, from me, it’s not finalized.”
So far, Belfort’s name as the replacement for Barnett has not come from Atencio’s mouth. He told MMAWeekly.com on Thursday, however, that he hopes to project the name of Fedor’s new opponent at some point on Friday.