Muhammed Lawal (born January 11, 1981) is an American mixed martial artist and professional wrestler. He is signed with Bellator Fighting Championships as an MMA fighter, and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as a wrestler. He is the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Nicknamed King Mo, he is a former three-time U.S. Senior National Wrestling Champion. He wrestled at the University of Central Oklahoma for three years (’00, ’01, ’02), winning one NCAA division II national championship in 2002, and compiling an overall record of 103-22. After finishing with an NCAA Division 2 National Championship in 2002, Mo moved on to Division 1 for his senior year of college. Lawal became a Big 12 Conference champion and Division 1 All-American in 2003 for Oklahoma State,where he finished in third place for the 197 pound division. He was also the University Freestyle National Champion at 185 pounds this year.
After college Lawal moved on to enter the newly formed Real Pro Wrestling league and became the champion of the 184 pound weight class in 2004. He also moved on to become the Senior U.S. National Champion in freestyle wrestling three times, 2005, 2006 and 2008. For over three years, Lawal was the number 1 ranked wrestler in the United States in the 84 kilogram division.After narrowly missing entrance to the 2008 Olympics, for which he was favored a spot, Lawal decided to enter the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
Mixed martial arts
In his 2008 mixed martial arts debut at Sengoku 5, Lawal fought Travis Wiuff, a veteran of 66 fights at the time, knocking him out in the first round.At Sengoku 6, Lawal fought Fabio Silva on November 1, 2008, defeating him in the third round via strikes.On January 4, 2009 Lawal faced Yukiya Naito at Sengoku Rebellion 2009, defeating him in the first round with punches.On March 20, 2009 at Sengoku 7, Lawal defeated Ryo Kawamura by unanimous decision. His first time going the distance, Lawal attributed his performance to a knee injury sustained about a week before the fight, “I kinda tweaked it rolling around [with Dean Lister], and I tried to rehab it as much as I could before the fight.”
On August 28, 2009 Lawal fought for the first time on U.S. soil against Mark Kerr at M-1 Global Presents Breakthrough. Lawal defeated Kerr by technical knockout 25 seconds into the fight.
On October 13, 2009, it was announced that Lawal had signed a multi-fight contract with U.S. based promotion Strikeforce. The contract allowed him to continue fighting in the Japanese circuit where he has gained his notoriety. On December 19 at Strikeforce: Evolution Lawal fought Mike Whitehead, defeating him three minutes and eight seconds into round one via KO (punches). Lawal came in showing relaxed hands and strong counter punching and caught Whitehead with a strong right which dropped him. Lawal followed up with three punches causing the referee to stop the fight. On April 17, 2010, Lawal defeated Gegard Mousasi by unanimous decision to win the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship.
Lawal lost the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship in Houston Texas, on August 21, against Rafael Cavalcante by TKO due to punches and elbows of 1:14 of round 3. Lawal was out of action until mid-2011 after undergoing surgery to repair a knee injury.Lawal was scheduled to fight Roger Gracie at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson on July 30, 2011. Gracie, however, withdrew from the bout in late June due to an injury. The fight was rescheduled for Strikeforce World Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov on Sept. 10, 2011, and Lawal won via KO in the first round. Lawal garnered his second straight victory, defeating previously unbeaten Lorenz Larkin at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine via second round KO. However, Lawal tested positive for anabolic steroids (Drostanolone) and as a result of the banned substance, the fight’s result has been changed to a no contest while Lawal will have his license suspended for one year. After meeting with the Nevada State Athletic Commission on March 27, 2012 his suspension was reduced to nine months.
Lawal was released from Strikeforce following comments he made on Twitter regarding Pat Lundvall after his hearing for his drug test. Lawal said, “She asked if I did research for my training. I didn’t get what she meant by the question, and she rolled her eyes and asked, ‘Do you speak English? Can you read?’ I felt I was disrespected by the woman’s comments. How are you going to ask a college educated, well traveled man if he can speak or read English? I’m speaking English right in front of you and I’ve been speaking English right in front of you for the past 15 minutes.” After the release, Lawal issued an apology to Lundvall, stating, “I was out of line for calling the woman the b-word and I was wrong for that. I was kind of mad about the comments, I was offended by the comments made towards me and I was out of line. I was too emotional. I apologize for that. With that being said, I still feel that I was offended, but I’m in the wrong for what I said.”
On May 10, 2012, it was reported that Lawal had signed a contract with the mixed martial arts promotion Bellator Fighting Championships.On January 24, 2013, Lawal made his Bellator debut as a participant in the Season 8 Light Heavyweight tournament. He defeated Przemyslaw Mysiala in the quarterfinal round via right hook. Lawal faced Emanuel Newton in the semifinals on February 21, 2013 at Bellator 90. Despite being a considerable favorite, Lawal lost via KO due to a spinning back fist in the first round. Lawal will compete in Bellator’s Light Heavyweight summer series tournament on Spike. He faced Seth Petruzelli in the opening round of a 4-man tournament at Bellator 96 on June 19, 2013, he won the fight by KO due to a punch in full guard at 1:35 of the first round. Lawal next faced Jacob Noe at Bellator 97 in the Light Heavyweight tournament final. He won via TKO due to punches in round three to win the Bellator 2013 Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament. Lawal faced Emanuel Newton in a rematch for the Interim Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship on November 2, 2013 at Bellator 106. Lawal lost via unanimous decision.