King Mo Lawal Books Retirement Fight at Bellator 233

Bellator MMA's King Mo Muhammed Lawal
King Mo Credit: Dave Mandel/

King Mo Lawal has one more fight in him, as he’ll take on Andrew Kepel at Bellator 233 later this year.

The King is dead. Long live the King. Lawal, that is. King Mo Lawal will return to the cage one last time. The former Strikeforce champion, Bellator MMA tournament winner, and RIZIN grand prix winner will take on Andrew Kepel at Bellator 233, ESPN reported Thursday. Although Lawal (21–9, 1NC) announced his retirement from MMA earlier this year, the Kepel fight will represent his retirement bout.

The now 38-year old Muhammed Lawal entered the sport in 2008, getting his start in Japan before jumping to Scott Coker’s Strikeforce. Defeating Gegard Mousasi for the light heavyweight title to cap a 7-0 start to his career, he’d lose the belt to Rafael Cavalcante his very next fight. In 2012, as Strikeforce was gobbled up by the UFC following Zuffa’s purchase of their biggest competitor, Lawal jumped to Bellator MMA.

Quickly fast-tracked in the light heavyweight division, NCAA Division I wrestler Lawal would enter the Bellator Season 8 tournament, only to be finished by Emmanuel Newton. He’d win the 2013 Light Heavyweight Summer Series tournament, only to again lose to Newton. He’d lose a showdown with rival Rampage Jackson in 2014, though Lawal would go on to win the rematch three years later.

Perhaps Lawal’s biggest achievement, however, was heading to Japan and winning the RIZIN heavyweight grand prix in 2015. He’d struggle to repeat that success a year later, being finished by Mirko Cro-Cop in the 2016 open weight grand prix. Earlier this year, he came up short for the inaugural RIZIN light heavyweight belt, against Jiří Procházka — the man he defeated in the finale of the 2015 heavyweight tournament.

Following that April 2019 loss, Lawal announced his retirement. However, he’ll come back to take on Andrew Kepel — and get a proper send-off. Kepel (14-6) has won his last four bouts, but will be making his Bellator debut.

Bellator 233 takes place November 8, 2019 at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.