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King Mo eyes Fedor Emelianenko fight, open to bouts at middleweight

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'King Mo' says he is a 'money man first,' and in addition to wanting a fight with MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko, Lawal will also take fights at middleweight to ensure he stays busy in 2016.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Muhammed Lawal (19-4-1) rang in the new year in Japan by winning three fights in two days to win the Rizin Fighting Federation Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament.

"King Mo" knocked out Brett McDermott in the quarterfinals (video), scored a decision win over Teodoras Aukstuolis in the semi final round, and defeated Jiri Prochazka in the tournament final with his second KO in three fights (replay).

Looking back on his successful trip to Japan, Lawal said he gained a bit of knowledge from it.

"I learned a lot," Lawal told MMAmania.com. "I kind of underestimated the field. Everybody was telling me, ‘oh you are going to run through these guys. They're bums.' So, I didn't really watch much film on these guys. I had people watch film for me -- which I already do -- and they sent me little clips. I saw them at the drawing, and everybody is big out of season. I didn't think I'd walk through them, but they were a lot tougher than I expected."

Lawal, 35, was the heavy favorite according to most experts, as expected, but once the tournament started to unfold, he quickly took note of how people began to doubt his chances at winning.

"It was crazy because here is what happened," Lawal explained. "When I fought people were telling me I'm gonna win. Then once the first round happened, then it was, ‘Mo, people are doubting you. They are saying the Russian (Aukstuolis) or Jiri (Prochazka) the guy that made the finals, the Lithuanian is going to knock you out because he has heavy hands and he's fast.' Everybody was like, ‘these guys are going to beat me.' Once I beat them they are like, ‘These guys are bums. They're nobodies.' You know what I'm saying. It's kind of crazy how things work in America."

After the first fight, Lawal said he was "depleted" and his muscles were "fatigued." He said it was mostly due to not being able to eat properly once he got into the country.

"The first day I felt awkward because I kind of got tired because we got there at 8:30 in the morning," Lawal said. "Then we had ring check at 11 and then I didn’t fight 'til like the end of the night. All they gave us were bento boxes. Bento boxes are a little bit of rice -- white rice, pickles, vegetables, a little wasabi and some mackerel. It’s sushi-grade mackerel, but it’s like room temperature. It was a small box of food and it was nasty. I usually leave the arena and get some soba noodles or something, but they wouldn’t let us leave. So we were stuck with these weak-ass bento boxes."

He made sure to fuel himself up for the final night of fights, "I was like, ‘you know what, on the second day of fights I’m not going to make the same mistake.’ I loaded up on noodles that morning. Noodles and potatoes. So I was straight."

As for wear and tear, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion said his hands are a little sore and he has some minor bruising on his face. Overall he really enjoyed fighting in Japan for the first time since early on in his career.

"It was cool, because in Japan MMA has been kind of dead and this was a jump start," said Lawal on the inaugural Rizin card. "The turnout was good. The people were enthusiastic. It was a good experience. It was different because when I was there (last) MMA was still around. Now when I come back, it was different. The crowd was younger."

While he would like to return to Japan, Lawal said he is a Bellator fighter "first and foremost," and added "we'll see." However, there is a fight her would like to have in Bellator, and it's with the man who headlined the Rizin Card, MMA legend, Fedor Emelianenko.

Emelianenko easily defeated Jaideep Singh in his first fight since coming out of retirement (watch it) and Lawal called out "The Last Emperor" via Twitter.

"I won and he won and we are both out there. It makes sense, right? You know what I’m saying?" he said. "Bellator gave me the opportunity to fight over in Japan, representing Bellator, so let me pay it back by fighting a legend in America, Fedor Emelianenko."

There hasn't been any word on if that matchup would ever materialize, and Lawal said he will "see what's available."

Current light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary is going to fight Phil Davis, who won the four-man tournament at Bellator 142: Dynamite 1, and Emanuel Newton is facing Linton Vassel at Bellator 149, so their aren't many enticing matchups at 205 for him at the moment. He has already fought at heavyweight and revealed he'd also fight in one more weight class.

"185 is an option," said Lawal, who defeated Vassel in the semifinal round of the Bellator 142: Dynamite 1 tournament, before having to pull out due to a rib injury. "I can make 185. Right now I'm 209 as we speak. I want to fight and get paid. That's what I do."

"King Mo" has now won seven straight fights (four in a row in Bellator) and has always been honest when it comes to seeking a solid pay day.

"I'm a money man first," he said. "You know what I'm saying? I wouldn't do it if I wasn't getting paid. All I can be is honest. I don't fight for the fans. I fight for the money. Everybody fights for a purse. Everybody fights for money. That's how it really is."

Whether his next opponent is Emelianenko or not, you can be certain Lawal is looking to stay busy in 2016 and get paid as much as possible.

"I'm going to try and talk to Bellator this week and see when I can fight again. If I could fight like five or six times this year, that would be sick."