Though the transition between Mixed Martial Arts and Professional Wrestling is not entirely new (see Brock Lesnar, Ken Shamrock and Sakuraba, among others), competing in both simultaneously is a rare endeavor. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal is doing just that, fighting for both the Bellator Fighting Championships and Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling.
Wednesday night, Lawal talked with BJPenn.com Radio about his participation in both sports and how he has managed to manage both sports’ training and competition.
Both professional wrestling and MMA have seen considerable growth in recent years. Of course, both have also carried with them their own loyal fan base. Naturally, the fans of either sport do not fully embrace the other, so an MMA vs Wrestling debate has existed for considerable time. King Mo probably understands this better than most, given his professional career, but the clashing opinions do not faze him in the slightest.
When asked about any negative comments he receives from MMA fans who hear of his wrestling, he replied, “The thing is, a lot of people, they’re just fans, they don’t know s***. They try to give me flack saying, ‘Oh, how can you say that? How can you say pro wrestling is tougher than MMA?’ Well, mother******, I can say it because I’ve done it! You know what I’m saying?! You ask Ken Shamrock, you ask any of the guys that did change, that went to pro wrestling from MMA, they’ll tell you. You know, all the bumps and falling down, falling through ropes. You know, taking the bumps is what kills you… It’s tough, man, because you do it every day. I come into practice, warm up… hit the ropes, do my bumps and then train wrestling stuff. And the bumps is what gets you, man, because that mat, the ring, it ain’t soft. It ain’t padded. It’s just wood and metal. You know what I’m saying? And a little bit of canvas. So it’s not soft.”
Despite the wear the sport puts on his body, Lawal continues the additional training because he truly enjoys wrestling. Not merely for the competition, he explained, but for the sport’s differences from MMA.
“I enjoy doing it,” Mo explained, “because, the thing is, in MMA you can win the fight and get boo’s, and people hate you. But in pro wrestling, you can win and get boo’s, you can lose and get boo’s. You’re doing it for entertainment, and it’s fun. MMA is fun, but a lot of time they criticize you for what you do. For instance, a lot of people criticize GSP for doing takedowns. But you know what, how can you hate a winner? You know what I’m saying? I feel like a lot of fans, they look at MMA like it’s something easy to do; they think that we should just go out there and entertain them and not worry about getting the win. You could be in an entertaining loss and still get cut. Just because you lose, if it’s an entertaining fight, don’t mean nothing… Like with the MMA crowd, you can bull**** the MMA crowd; and what I mean is, you can just go out there and not be a fighter and win, and they’ll love you. As far as pro wrestling, you can’t bull**** no pro wrestling crowd, because if they ain’t feeling you, they won’t cheer. And once they don’t cheer, that means you’re irrelevant. They won’t boo you, they’ll just look at you like, “who is this mother******? Get him out of there. I’m gonna go get a drink, y’all can watch him, but I’m not watching him… That means that no one gives a f*** about you! In MMA, they’ll boo you or whatever, you’ll get something. In pro wrestling, you’ll get cheers, boo’s, or nothing. And once you get nothing, that’s when you’re in trouble. In MMA they’ll boo you as soon as you get a takedown… you know what I’m saying? You get a knockout or submission, cheer, you know what I’m saying? If nothing’s happening, ‘Boo!’ In pro wrestling, you could look phenomenal, but if they’re not feeling you, they won’t do a damn thing. Just whatever. Because if they boo you, you can be like, ‘Alright, f*** it, I’m a bad guy.’”
More so than MMA, wrestling is a sport that centers around entertainment. For King Mo, that seems to be the draw: crafting his style to make sure he is pleasing the fans. When asked about his style, he replied, “I’m going to be a stiff style, stiff style with amateur wrestling, amateur Olympic wrestling. I’m going to make sure I’m stiff-style, MMA, I’m going to throw it all in there. A little bit amateur, a little bit of everything. Where I go train, people are like, ‘Damn, what’s that?’ Because I’ll do s*** from amateur wrestling or MMA, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, I’ve never seen that before.’”
His finishing move, he explained, will be a “modified ‘Garvin Stomp,’” though he wouldn’t give too much detail on how it will look.
“Yeah, I’m going to modify it so it’s more me. I’m not going to say how, because I’ve already modified it a little bit. Y’all are going to see, because I’m going to be doing matches this year for TNA.”
For his matches in TNA, Lawal has a lot of people helping him along the way. He described his “Big influences, the OVW staff, Nick Dinsmore, ‘Trailer Park Trash’ Frank Miller, my boy Kenny King. Kenny King is the man, as the X-Division Champion over the TNA. And really my mom. I grew up watching wrestling with her. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be a wrestling fan.”
Still a wrestling fan, Mo watches the sport, but he mostly follows TNA. When asked about the upcoming Wrestlemania, he responded, “I’ll get the results. I watched last year, or two years ago, when The Rock faced John Cena, I don’t remember when it was, but whatever. But now, with the rematch man, I don’t care… I’m more into TNA, you know what I’m saying, straight up… My boy, Kenny King, doing things in TNA Impact Wrestling; TNA’s on the road; Nikki is my homegirl, she’s doing big things; Aces & Eights; Bobby Roode and A Double, Austin Aries, great tag team.”
No matter how much Lawal loves the sport of wrestling, there will always be MMA fans who don’t understand his decision to do both sports instead of pursuing an MMA career with the UFC. To those questions, Mo simply doesn’t care.
“I’m happy with my decision, because you know what, I’m a man. I can be myself. To me, the organization don’t matter. I ain’t no groupie, I’m not going to be like, ‘Oh, I want to go to the UFC and fight for so-and-so, oh, Daddy Dana.’ You’ll never hear me call another man, ‘Daddy.’ He ain’t my blood, my daddy, you know what I’m saying? You’ll never hear me call a man ‘uncle’ who ain’t family friend or blood. So for me, I’m looking at it like, ‘Hey, Dana White’s doing his thing, Lorenzo’s doing his thing, the UFC is doing their thing, that’s great for them.’ I’m doing my thing. I don’t care about money, I don’t care about the man’s money, I worry about what I got to do. As far as looking in the mirror, I’m happy.”
Be sure to check out the rest of King Mo’s interview with BJPenn.com Radio where he talks about the UFC 158 fight between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz, and hear his thoughts on his recent KO loss. You can hear it all right here.Tags: "King" Mo Lawal, a double, aces & eights, aces and eights, austin aries, Bellator, Bellator Fighting Championship, BJPenn.Com Radio, BJPennDotCom Radio, bobby roode, Brock Lesnar, Dana White, frank miller, georges st. pierre, gsp, John Cena, Ken Shamrock, kenny king, king mo, Lorenzo Fertitta, mma, MMA NEWS, Muhammed Lawal, Nick Diaz, nick gizmore, ovw, sakuraba, the rock, tna impact, tna wrestling, UFC 158