(Lawal and Newton square off at yesterday’s weigh-ins. Photo via Sherdog)
By Elias Cepeda
After a year marked by a steroid suspension, a life-threatening staph infection, a firing from Zuffa, and then a quick hire by Bellator, Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal finally got back in the ring in January. The former amateur collegiate and international wrestler fought and beat the aggressive (and consonant-heavy) Przemyslaw Mysiala at Bellator 86, ending the match by first-round KO.
Lawal is back in action tonight at Bellator 90, where he and Emanuel Newton will meet in the semi-finals of the promotion’s Season 8 light-heavyweight tournament. We caught up with Mo recently to discuss getting back in the ring and his training for the peculiar tournament structure. Check out our conversation below, and be sure to tune in to the Spike TV broadcast of Bellator 90 at 10 p.m. ET, which will also feature the Season 8 welterweight tournament finals, and the delayed featherweight tournament final between Shahbulat Shamhalaev and Rad Martinez.
CagePotato: What was it like getting back in the cage last month after such a long layoff?
Muhammed Lawal: The weird thing is. It didn’t feel any different. I had [agent] Mike Kogan, my brother Bull who is fighting in Legacy Fighting Championships in April and Jeff Mayweather with me like usual. I had all my friends and family and coaches around me, so it felt normal.
But I also felt relieved and I felt rejuvenated to see blood and sweat on you, to step into the cage. Seeing my opponent on the other side made me realize what I really missed. It’s like when you are dating a girl. When she’s gone you think, ‘damn, I really miss this or that about her.’
I wanted to get a feel for things in the cage when I got in there but the dude [Mysiala] came forward with haymakers and I knew this might happen, so luckily Jeff Mayweahter trained me well. He trained me to slip, slip, catch, block and roll, and that’s what I tried to do. I hit him with a check hook while he was trying to land a big shot.
CP: Your semi-final fight is just four weeks after the last one. Do you have any injuries left over that you’ll have to fight with?