“King Mo” On Dan Henderson’s Right Hand: “I Have An Equalizer Too”
Former Strikeforce Champ Confirms Jan. 7th Bout, Discusses Future of Promotion
By Kelsey Mowatt
While it remains to be seen what’s in store for Strikeforce in the long term, and if, or in what fashion parent company Zuffa will keep it running next year, the promotion continues to work on its first event of 2012. The upcoming, January 7th event in Las Vegas will not only reportedly feature middleweight champion Luke Rockhold fighting Keith Jardine, but another of Strikeforce’s biggest names in “King Mo” Lawal.
“Yeah, I think I’m fighting January 7th,” Lawal recently informed FCF. “That’s the plan. I guess I’m targeted for the seventh so we just have to find out who I’m fighting.”
It wasn’t long ago that Lawal joined many other observers throughout the sport, to express his doubts about the future of Strikeforce, following its poorly attended–and some felt overlooked– event in September. Now, with another Strikeforce bout reportedly imminent, has Lawal changed his perspective?
“I don’t know,” said Lawal. “If they were like, ‘we’re having this card in January, and we’re doing another in February’, I’d be saying this is crazy. But the thing is, I don’t know; no one knows. I wish I knew what was going on. All I know is that they’re having a card in January and then we’ll see what happens.”
Several weeks ago, pessimism regarding the future of Strikeforce seemed well founded, as not only was there little to no news about the ongoing negotiations between Zuffa and Showtime, but several of Strikeforce’s biggest names were moved to the UFC.
“A lot of these guys they found ways with their contracts,” said Lawal, while discussing what Strikeforce may look like next year in terms of its profile and purpose. “Cung Le’s ran out, (Alistair) Overeem was cut over management stuff, Dan Henderson’s contract ran out, Nick Diaz they must have found something up with his contract, so it’s not like they just said hey, with Gilbert Melendez, they didn’t bring him over. He’s fighting in December, so, something must be going on, we just don’t know.”
“As long as my checks don’t bounce I’m good,” Lawal added, when asked if he believes Strikeforce can still be a viable and successful promotion. “Give me a fight, and it’s all good. I really don’t know, I’m not a promoter, I’m a fighter. I guess we’ll see what happens next year.”
After Henderson laid claim to the Strikeforce Light-Heavyweight Championship in May, speculation as to whether Lawal would eventually face his former training partner increased, before the decorated veteran returned to the UFC.
“I was mad because I couldn’t fight him, but I was happy for Dan,” said Lawal. “He beat Fedor (Emelianenko), beat “Shogun” (Rua) in a close fight, he beat “Feijao” (Cavalcante), he’s getting the recognition he solidly deserves.”
“I have an advantage over Dan in the wrestling,” Lawal furthered, while discussing Henderson’s abilities and his feared right hand. “The thing is though, Dan’s a competitor; your advantage doesn’t always matter because Dan has that great equalizer. I have an equalizer too but he’s proven that he can be effective with it over the years. It would be great fight. I think I can beat him though.”
In January, Lawal will be competing for the first time since September, when he knocked out renowned jiu-jitsu competitor Roger Gracie. The bout was the 30 year-old-fighter’s first and only tilt of 2011, as after Lawal’s TKO loss to “Feijao” Cavalcante in August, 2010, he underwent surgery to repair a badly injured knee.
“Hell yeah,” said Lawal, when asked if he’s interested in re-matching Cavalcante, who ended his reign as light-heavyweight champ. “I just want to fight. We’ll see who, but I don’t care, I just want to fight.”