Part II: King Mo Discusses How Heathcliff Got Him Into MMA, How G.I. Joe Almost Killed Him
By Bryan Levick
There may not be a busier athlete in sports today than Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion is currently training for a rematch against Emanuel Newton which will take place at Bellator 106 November 2 on pay-per-view. The two will be competing for the Bellator interim light heavyweight championship and this bout offers Lawal an opportunity to show that Newton’s knockout victory over him in February was a fluke.
Roughly a month after facing Newton on Bellator’s first foray into the pay-per-view market, Lawal will take his seat alongside women’s MMA pioneer Julie Kedzie and one of the best combat sports announcers ever in Mauro Ranallo at Invicta Fighting Championships 7. There hasn’t been a definitive sate set yet, but Invicta President Shannon Knapp has stated it would be sometime in December. Lawal has gotten rave reviews for his work as an announcer and thoroughly enjoys watching the ladies compete.
When he’s not training for an MMA fight he is down at Ohio Valley Wrestling learning the ins and outs of professional wrestling. When Lawal signed with Bellator in May of 2012 he also signed a deal with TNA Wrestling and has made some appearances on their weekly show which like Bellator airs on Spike TV. Although he has yet to have his first match for them he is working diligently to fulfill a dream he has had since he was young kid.
Speaking of being a young kid, Lawal credits a certain cartoon character for getting him involved in mixed martial arts. He has great memories of his childhood for the most part, but he also blames another cartoon for nearly killing him after watching one of their public service announcements.
“Heathcliff was always fighting and sometimes he’d get beat, but he’d always come back with a better game plan,” King Mo told Alchemist Radio. “He also got Sonja the white cat and she looked good too! If you remember at the end of the GI Joe cartoons they’d always do the life lessons. For instance they’d show a power cord and they’d tell the little boy if you see a power cord down you have to avoid it. One episode a kid was on a cliff and he falls backwards and falls off of it and he’s drowning. Then the GI Joe dude swims up to him and says if this ever happens to you use your legs in a forward and backward walking motion and you’ll swim.”
“I’m watching it and thinking that’s how you swim? I told my mom I know how to swim and she’s like no you don’t. I said I’m going to go over to my cousin’s crib and we’ll go to an apartment complex and go swimming. My mom was like you can’t swim, do not swim so I said to myself I’m going to show her I can swim. Days later my cousin and I found an apartment complex with a swimming pool and he and his friend jump in and I jumped in the deep end.
“I just sank straight to the bottom with my eyes wide open. I was trying to move and I couldn’t. Luckily my cousin saved me, but I had swallowed so much water it gave me a drowning headache and I almost died. I was throwing up, I pissed myself in the pool, it was bad. Ever since then I was like GI Joe is full of it!”
Being part of the first ever Bellator pay-per-view-card means a lot more than an opportunity at extracting revenge against Newton and capturing the Bellator light heavyweight title for Lawal. He is interested in seeing the younger Bellator fighters get featured on the big stage and he is more than willing to do his part to help them shine.
“I think it’s great, I’m just hoping it leads to bigger and better things for Bellator,” admitted the 32-year-old TN native. “I hope it gives guys like Pat Curran, Daniel Strauss, Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez a chance to shine. I don’t care about the shine; I hope they all get that chance. I hope Newton gets the shine even though I’m going to beat his ass! I feel like a lot of the fighters in Bellator don’t get respect because people are brand junkies.”
“You have to realize it’s not the organization, it’s the fighters. Jamie Varner is a tough fighter, but he lost in Titan. Does that mean he’s less of a fighter? No, that means he got beat by a guy who had the style to defeat him. Styles make fights, fighters make fights, the organization doesn’t make the fights. Anyone can be beat in any organization at any time on any day. Fans don’t realize that and I feel like we have a lot of good fighters that don’t get any respect because we’re in Bellator.”
Knapp recently announced that Invicta FC 7 will take place on December 7 from Kansas City, Missouri. Lawal has made the transition from mixed martial artist to announcer a seamless one. Not only have the fans and fighters praised his work, but so have Knapp and his announcing partners Kedzie and Ranallo. You only have to talk to Lawal about Invicta for a few brief moments to truly understand how passionate he is about women’s mixed martial arts. The success of the organization has surprised him somewhat, but not completely. He applauds Knapp and her crew for taking the organization in the right direction and being patient.
“Here’s the thing about Invicta, if you remember back in the day when Pride was around they’d have events every two to three months and they’d build them up,” Lawal said. “It gave them time to build the event and the fans would sit around and get restless. I think Invicta is doing the right formula by not having events every month. People are getting antsy and anxious and everyone is tuning in. When they tune in it’s worth it because these girls are fighting there asses off. If they had events every two weeks it would be hard to push because they’d be on overload. Pretty soon the demand will be up, it’s already up right now, but pretty soon people will want to see more Invicta and they’ll have to put on more shows. There are so many cards (In MMA) that the standards have dropped. Back in the day the cards were stacked, but now you might get one fight and think that was a great card. Back in the day you’d get three or four great fights, but now all it takes is one fight and people forget about the rest of the card.”
To read part 1 of the interview with “King Mo” Lawal, CLICK HERE