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‘King Mo’ Lawal wants to go out with a BANG one last time at Bellator 233 in Thackerville

King Mo interview

Bellator 233 “Salter vs. van Steenis” takes place Friday, November 8, 2019 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The Middleweight main event will see John Salter (16-4) and Costello van Steenis (12-1) in a ranking battle as contenders vie for the right to face Rafael Lovato Jr.

A potentially historic match is also on tap in Oklahoma as former Strikeforce and Rizin world champion “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (21-9, 1 NC) takes the final match of his career against Andrew Kapel (13-6), fighting in the state where he made his name as a collegiate amateur wrestler.

At one time it seemed that Lawal had retired in June following his third straight TKO loss, but the lure to have one more fight and go out on his own terms at 38 was hard to resist.

Today Muhammed Lawal talks to MMA Mania about final bout on November 8th while illuminating just why he thinks now is the right time to call it a day.

“Yeah man, this is my last fight man. I’m just focused on coaching and... you know that’s about it really — coaching and enjoying feeling good. This is my first time actually feeling pain free, so I was like ‘You know what? Let me try to go out on a win.’ Let me go out on a win and stay pain free the rest of my life — well until I get older, and that’s it. I don’t plan on doing nothing else involving combat sports.”

As you may have suspected going in, the ignominious nature of Lawal leaving the sport on a losing streak didn’t sit well with him as he sat at home feeling pain free.

“Oh hell no! Sure don’t man! I don’t (want to go out like that) and I’m glad Bellator gave me the opportunity to go out and try to get this win. I’m fighting at 195, I could possibly do more if I wanted to, 185 if I wanted to, there’s a few times I hit 191 (while training). I feel fresh, feel good, but you know what? I want to feel fresh and feel good even after the fight, so that’s why it’s just this one fight and I’m gonna feel fresh and feel good up until I turn old.”

If you’re wondering why Lawal would take his last fight against an unheralded opponent like Andrew Kapel, he’s happy to say that there’s a karmic connection that ties things together.

“Well it’s crazy cause everything turns full circle with me. I pretty much started learning about MMA period in Oklahoma with a fighter named Jeff Lindsay. He’s an Oklahoma MMA legend, I cornered him when he fought Yves Edwards, and he introduced me to the fighting side of MMA as a coach — and this is when I was like 19 or 20. So when I took my first fight, my first fight was versus a Monte Cox fighter in Travis Wiuff, and he gave me the opportunity to fight him on like two weeks notice or something like that.”

There you have it. Lawal wants to bring it back to Oklahoma where it all started and give another young hungry fighter the same opportunity he had when he first broke in.

“So you know what? It’s my last fight and (Kapel’s) had a hard time getting fights, and I might as well give him an opportunity to make a name for himself. If it’s a good fight and I beat him and it’s a close fight, hey he put in a good account for himself. If he beats me? Hey man, you know, he just retired King Mo.”

Lawal didn’t want want an easy fight for his last match either. He purposefully agreed to face a man on a three fight winning streak with two of those wins by rear naked choke.

“I’ll tell you this — in combat sports nothing comes easy. Something’s always hard. You can have an easy camp but have a hard fight, or you can have a hard camp and make the fight easy you know, but something’s always going to be hard in that. That’s one thing I’ve learned.”

For Lawal there’s another bit of poetry in fighting in Thackerville for his last Bellator fight. His first bout in the promotion was in the same venue against Przemyslaw Mysiala in 2013.

“Yup! Where I first started too. First started in Bellator in Thackerville with a knockout win over my boy PM. I can’t say his name, I’ll butcher it, but that’s my boy PM. Shout out to my boy PM, we’ve trained a few times after since then, and now it’s my last fight in Thackerville, Oklahoma so... I’m cool with it.”

Kendrick Lamar and SZA might say “All the Stars” are lined up, but “King Mo” can find even more parallels to things he used to hear fighters say that he now says about Andrew Kapel.

“He’s tough, he’s a kickboxer, he’s long, he’s got a pretty good job. I’m not worried about him off his back, the armbar triangle situation, but he’s persistent. He’s got a good ground game, he’s solid. But here’s the thing and this is funny, and this is why I say things go full circle — while I’m saying all this, I’m going to say something that Mike Whitehead, who was a Monte Cox fighter, said at the same time. ‘I’ve seen everything Andrew Kapel has to offer, nothing will surprise me, blah blah blah.’ That’s what every veteran says, and that’s what I’ma say too! It’s up to Andrew to make me think otherwise. It’s a cliche quote but I haven’t fought Andrew yet, so it’s up to Andrew to make me think otherwise.”

There’s one other thing that Lawal wants to see in Thackerville — younger fighters and wrestlers like Tyrell Fortune and Romero Cotton following in his footsteps in their fights.

“Yup! And you know what? I’m hoping that I can go out with a bang along with the future. While I’m exploding and I’m fading away, they’re rising from my ashes, you know what I’m saying? Shooting out far.”

Maybe the fight is more Katy Perry than Kendrick Lamar in that case, but whatever the case may be you’ll want to tune in for the “Fireworks” Friday at Bellator 233.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of Bellator 233: “Salter vs. van Steenis” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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