Muhammed Lawal, better known to fight fans as King Mo, has a main event clash with Ryan Bader at Bellator 199 this weekend. Yet it’s a Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarter Final that may not have happened without Lawal taking care of a nagging hip injury.
King Mo is no stranger to titles, big fights, and tournaments. Lawal (21–6 (1)), a former Strikeforce champion, won RIZIN’s 2015 heavyweight tournament, and competed in the Japanese promotion’s 2016 Openweight grand prix only to be finished by the legendary Cro-Cop. Still, Lawal is a veteran at this point — albeit one who has not fought in over a year.
When you hear King Mo detail just how a nagging hip injury was hampering his day-to-day life, however, you can quickly understand why. During his time on the shelf, Lawal had the issue taken care of with a hip resurfacing. As to just what that is, “it involves metal being put in the joint. Instead of being bone-on-bone, they put metal where the bone is,” Lawal explained, “and they put metal over the bone. Like a swivel. So I have like a swivel in my hip.”
If it sounds intense, it is. But it has greatly improved his quality of life, a huge deal for the 37 year old fighter. “I can walk normal, I can jog, I can lift my knee up,” he rattled off all the everyday actions once again within his grasp. “I can get up out of the car. I can get up in the car. I can tie my shoe. I can put my shoe on, I can put my socks on, and I can take my socks off. I couldn’t do that before.”
“And I can throw a jab,” he added. “Before when I throw a jab, it used to hurt me. Because pushing off my toe, my s*** was jammed up.” It’s not hurting him any more, and now King Mo is thrilled to get back in action. He doesn’t really care that he and opponent Ryan Bader — who many expect will fight for Bader’s light heavyweight championship at some point — are the last quarter final fight in Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix to square off.
“It don’t matter to me, as long as I’m in the tournament it’s all good,” he said.
In the end, Lawal expects to meet Matt Mitrione, who defeated good buddy Roy Nelson in quarter final action on the opposite side of the tournament bracket. It’s the only fight of the grand prix thus far that has surprised Mo.
“I thought Matt and Roy should have went an extra round,” he told Cageside Press at Thursday’s Bellator 199 media day. “It was close, the third round was clear domination by Roy. The first two rounds, Matt looked good. Matt won the first round easy, the second round, he won, but maybe Roy, [with the] takedown, you could see Roy coming on.”
“The third round, Roy won that I think easy. It should have went the extra round, but the judges said otherwise.”
It’s a situation Lawal will look to avoid Saturday when he meets Ryan Bader in the main event of Bellator 199. Lawal, however, is confident that his training has him where he needs to be.
Check out our full interview with King Mo Lawal above! Bellator 199 takes place Saturday, May 12 at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA. The main card airs live on the Paramount Network starting at 9PM ET.