Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal has found new life after a stale end to the time he had with his previous employers.
Lawal signed a multi-year agreement with Bellator Fighting Championships as well as TNA wrestling after being released from Strikeforce earlier in 2012.
The former champion says that his passion for competing in Strikeforce died when the promotion sold to Zuffa, LLC, the same company that owns and operates the UFC. At that point, the promotion he was fighting for was no longer fighting for No. 1 and it just didn't sit right with him.
“As far as me losing my spark and intensity I always had it, but when Strikeforce was sold, it was like, when I was fighting for Strikeforce it's like we're going against the grain. We're trying to be the top people here. We're fighting for respect,” said Lawal on Wednesday.
“Then when Strikeforce was purchased, the whole demeanor of it changed. I was like, whatever, I'm over it. But now that I'm with Bellator, and Bellator's in the same situation that Strikeforce was in, we're fighting for respect, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to fight my ass off so we can get this respect as an organization.”
Fighting to be No. 1 is something Lawal has strived for his entire career, whether it was in wrestling or when he moved into mixed martial arts, and he wants to fight for a promotion that is gunning for the top spot as well.
Lawal is adamant when saying that Bellator won't be a minor league for the UFC, and their goal is to be No. 1 or do everything that it can to get there.
“I don't want people to think of Bellator as a feeder program,” said Lawal. “Bellator is trying to be the top dog, and I feel like with people like me and with (Michael) Chandler and Ben Askren and a few others fighting in Bellator, people will take notice and see these fights.”
Despite not having fought for Bellator yet, and not even making his debut for the promotion until 2013, Lawal is confident he made the right decision signing with them.
He's a happier man dealing with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney than he was in the brief time he dealt with UFC president Dana White, and for him it all comes down to respect.
“Dana White and them wanted me to wait till September. Wait for what? Wait for uncertainty? I don't know Dana; Dana don't know me. He don't owe me nothing; I don't owe him nothing,” Lawal said.
“What I was thinking about was he went out of his way to bash me a few times in interviews, but he doesn't know me, never talked to me before. We might have said hi to each other, but we don't know each other. So why should I sit around and wait for a guy that's quick to bash me when he doesn't know me? I'm off in a better place right now for me especially with Bjorn, he shows me respect, he's a cool dude, quiet, not too outspoken, and respectful of all the fighters.”
Before he makes his debut in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament on Spike TV in 2013, Lawal will first make an appearance as part of his TNA contract on Thursday night.
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