Muhamamed Lawal and Bjorn Rebney's partnership (and friendship) have seen better days.
What looked like was going to be a fruitful and successful relationship for both parties a few years ago, now seems like a distant memory, as things have gone south, and fast, for the once-happy duo.
According to Lawal, that may have all changed when Quinton Jackson joined the Bellator family last year. As Bjorn, it seemed, found his new guy to push and promote.
Something that was very obvious to "King Mo" in the lead up to to his main event fight against Jackson at this past weekend's (Sat., May 17, 2014) Bellator 120 pay-per-view (PPV) event (video highlights).
According to Lawal, he wasn't promoted enough by the company because all of their PR efforts were going into pushing Jackson.
He broke it all down during his recent guest spot on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting):
"To be real with you. Viacom has been cool. Viacom are my people. Spike TV have been cool. But Bellator, they haven't been that cool. Look how they promoted me. Look at everything Bjorn said in the promotion. 'Rampage is God. Rampage, man, he could blow and make things fall down. Rampage is a black superman. No one can beat Rampage. Rampage this, Rampage that.' He's like a cheerleader. And he just kind of downplayed me. Everything in the lead up to this fight, he never said one thing positive about me. Everything positive was about Rampage, and then he was like, ‘oh yeah, we have Mo right here.' So I felt disrespected a little bit."
As a result, Lawal accused Rebney of "dick-riding" Jackson during the PPV broadcast.
Not exactly the kind of thing you want to say to your boss.
Regardless, Lawal's suspicion of favoritism only grew after he saw an elated Rebney have a mini-celebration once "Rampage" was declared the winner.
"You know what, at first I was trying to be cool. I was listening to my music. But then -- I'm going to be real with you -- when someone asked [Rebney] ‘do you agree with the judges' and he said ‘yes'... man, the n-word in me was about to come out and just put some hands on him. I had to think about different things because I was like, this dude is just out there bulls--ting. ... After the fight (before the official decision), I looked over at him, he looked like he was distraught. And then after the judges gave the fight to Quinton, I looked at him and saw him kind of like do a fist-pump type of thing, clap his hands a little bit. I was like... this dude. That when I was like, gimme the microphone."
That's why you could clearly see Lawal rip into Bjorn right after the winner was announced. But, despite all of that, Rebney is adamant that the two sides have settled their differences.
But, if Lawal's most recent comments are any indication, that is far from the case.
"King Mo" also went on record that he would grant "Rampage' a rematch, seeing as how he feels he's the true winner. At the end of the day, all Lawal wants is respect, and if Bellator and Rebney aren't going to give it to him, then maybe some other promotion will.
"I'll give him the rematch. Because really, I should be giving him the rematch because I won that fight. He came up and asked me for the rematch. ‘We've got to do this again.' He came up and asked me for it, so I'll give him it. But I just want to get paid and treated with respect. And if Bellator can't do it, maybe someone else will. It is what it is."
While the loss didn't help his chances in securing a spot on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight roster, there is always ONE FC and World Series of Fighting (WSOF).
But according to Mike Kogan, Lawal's manager -- who also appeared on The MMA Hour -- the former Strikeforce 205-pound champion still has plenty of fights left with Bellator. And though he couldn't come up with an exact number, Kogan said it was enough to make sure that they would "die" fighting for Bellator, barring a release.
Somewhere in Long Island, Chris Weidman is wiping his brow.