Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (9-2-0, 7 KOs) has done pretty well for himself as a professional mixed martial arts fighter.
The former NCAA Division II national champion wrestler started his MMA career back in 2008, swiftly compiling a 7-0 pro record with his most notable win coming against then Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. King Mo tasted defeat for the first time during his next fight against Rafael Cavalcante, losing via TKO in the third round.
He bounced back from the loss with knockout victories against Roger Gracie and Lorenz Larkin (the result of the Larkin bout was eventually changed to a "no contest" after Lawal tested positive for drostanolone, an anabolic steroid).
When Strikeforce was finally dismantled and fighters from their ranks made their way onto the UFC's roster, many MMA fans looked forward to watching King Mo square up against some of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's top light-heavyweights.
Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be as comments made by Mo shortly after a hearing regarding the failed drug test ended up leading to his release from Zuffa.
"This is business," Lawal said on June 17. "It's in the past. … I feel bad about some of the things I said, but when I said it, that's how I felt."
Lawal took his release in stride, and signed with Bellator. He was impressive during his Bellator debut on Jan. 24, making quick work out of Przemyslaw Mysiala, winning via KO at 3.52 of the first round of their encounter. Against Mysiala, Lawal didn't remotely resemble the guy who relied heavily on his wrestling during his earlier days with Strikeforce. His striking was significantly improved, a testament to his new boxing coach, Jeff Mayweather.
"It felt great," Lawal said about his performance during his Bellator debut. "Winning always feels good."
King Mo looked like he was on his way to another knockout victory when he faced Emanuel Newton at Bellator 90, landing crisp combinations, controlling the action early on. However, Mo repeatedly dropped his hands during the fight, and Newton eventually made him pay for it, catching him off-guard with a spinning back fist.
"I was like 'man I messed up,'" King Mo responded when asked him to explain what went through his mind after the loss. "I knew my mistake. The people out there watching knew my mistake. I know the mistakes I made, but I've corrected them. The thing is; next time we fight, I'm gonna get him. I'm not worried about it."
As far as Lawal is concerned, if he fought Newton 10 times, he'd win "9.9 times."
Mo isn't dwelling on the loss to Newton, and he plans to redeem himself when he headlines the Bellator 96 fight card with Seth Petruzelli on June 19, at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. The event will be broadcast live starting 6 p.m. CST on Spike TV.
"I'm going to win," King Mo stated emphatically. "I don't know how, but I'm going to win."
Mo still believes in his abilities, even if some MMA fans jumped off his bandwagon after the loss to Newton, and securing Bellator's light heavyweight title remains his top priority.