King Mo was hoping he'd be a Bellator champion by now.
The former US wrestling standout and Strikeforce light heavyweight titleholder made waves when he signed with Bellator following his release from Zuffa.
After crushing his quaterfinal opponent Przemyslaw Mysiala in his promotional and tournament debut,, he was upset in a big way by Emanuel Newton earlier this year after catching a stunning spinning back fist in the face by the veteran.
Now, five months later, Lawal is back and hoping to do what he was supposed to do earlier this year.
The MMA/TNA standout returns to the Bellator cage this Wenesday night (June 19, 2013) as he competes against Seth Petruzelli in the promotion's four man Summer Series light heavyweight tournament at Bellator 96 in his backyard of Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Lawal spoke to MMAmania.com about his budding professional wrestling career, responding to his critics and going back to his roots in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's start with your work training for your wrestling debut with TNA. From everything I've heard, the training for professional wrestling is just as grueling and taxing on the body if not moreso than training for MMA. What's your take on it now that you've done both?
King Mo: Man, the more I train for pro wrestling, the more I like MMA training. (laughs) You have all these bumps you're taking and you get so sore, but luckily, I don't have to do it right now because I'm training for MMA with this tournament.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When Brock Lesnar came back to WWE, he had MMA shorts and gloves fighting an MMA style. Frank Trigg did something similar when he fought for TNA and it wasn't too popular. Rampage Jackson is already saying he'll do an MMA style when he competes for TNA, are you going to do that too or are you hoping to mix in more of a power style with your elite wrestling background?
King Mo: Ehhhh, we'll see. Right now I can say what I want to say but we'll see how it goes with my matches. I think I'm getting better and I've definitely got the psychology down right now. A lot of pro wrestling has an MMA style but right now I'm still well on my way to the journey to becoming a pro wrestler and making my debut.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of debuts, what did you think of Quinton Jackson's debut with TNA a week and a half ago?
King Mo: I think it was great. I liked it. That's the easy part right there, the showdown with Kurt Angle and everything. The hard part is the actual wrestling, but the staredown, he's been doing that his whole career. That part is easy.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Seth Petruzelli said something pretty interesting, and I'm sure you've already heard this, but he said this upcoming tournament was set up for you to get an easy win. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that.
King Mo: If Bellator really wanted me to get an easy win and everything, there wouldn't even be a tournament. They'd just give me a couple byes all the way to the finals. I wouldn't even have to fight. Instead, I'm getting thrown in there against him, and he's dangerous. Shouldn't he think he's dangerous?
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you talk a bit about setting up takedowns and the intricacies of timing for utilizing wrestling in MMA, because you caught some flack for not shooting against Emanuel Newton early enough and I wanted to hear your side on what was there for you.
King Mo: The thing is, Emanuel Newton was always going away from me. When I went forward, he went backwards and when I touched him, even when I tried to hit him in the face, he was moving. I just wanted to hit him at the beginning, win that round because it seemed we were both a bit frustrated. He felt distant. I wasn't worried about shooting in right away because he wasn't giving me the opportunity and I felt fine. People don't understand that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What do you think about the criticism from some people that you fell in love with your striking and went away from your roots?
King Mo: People are stupid. It's like this. When I fought Lorenz Larkin, how much striking did I do? I beat him up on the ground. When I fought Roger Gracie, how much wrestling did I do? Not much, I didn't want to mess with a world champion on the ground. Now, in my Bellator debut against Missy Elliot, I stepped on the gas and beat him up standing. I wasn't all too concerned about him. I didn't need to shoot.
I get so much flak from people, on Twitter, everything, from all these people that never stepped into a cage or trained a day in their life. I'm like, "Whatever." To me, it's a joke. It's a joke.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How many people on average do you bock on Twitter? It seems you're not the type that would take much shit from anonymous people?
King Mo: It depends with how much I'm on there. Sometimes I talk shit back to them, at least I used to, at least I used to, but that would just create more. I'd say on average about 10 a day or so on Twitter. Today, it was 15 in about the past 45 minutes.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Okay, back to the fight, is there anything you're concerned about with Petruzelli? He seems like an awkward guy to prepare for.
King Mo: Yeah, I don't know man. He's weird. He hits hard. He has a goofy style and he has a kind of Japanese style.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you still have that big desire to be a champion or are you more focused on getting back on track right now?
King Mo: I still feel the desire to be champion. That's why I'm doing this. I wouldn't be fighting otherwise.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you envision success on Wednesday night, what do you see?
King Mo: I'm not one for predictions or anything, but I do see myself getting my hand raised, That's about it.
Mo would like to thank Roy Nelson, AKA, MMA Elite. You can follow him on Twitter @KingMoFH.