Strikeforce’s 205-pound champion, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, is known for a lot of things – the extraordinary success he experienced as an amateur wrestler, his outspokenness on peers/promoters, his knowledge of fighting, and his trademark entrance to the ring being a few of them. He is unapologetically honest and exudes a unique level of confidence about his abilities and potential. And, to the surprise of some fans, the enigmatic champ has a new characteristic to add to the pile – humility.
The 7-0 Lawal recently spoke to media during a conference call related to his upcoming August 21st title fight with Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante in Houston, Texas, and gave his thoughts on the match-up, competing as a heavyweight, and even how he’d fare in a scrap with UFC middleweight champion, and Cavalcante’s friend/training partner, Anderson Silva.
On the subject of potentially fighting “The Spider, Lawal responded with self-belief but stopped well short of disrespecting Silva.
“I don’t know. If you ask me if I could beat anybody I’m going to say I can beat anybody. I’d win against anybody with a good game plan. It doesn’t matter who it is. Except my momma. It doesn’t matter who it is, I’ll beat them with a good game plan.”
Also, when asked about moving up a division and trying his luck against some of Strikeforce’s heavyweights, Lawal said he was open to the challenge and that what it boils down to in the end for him is his enjoyment of the sport.
“I just like fighting. A belt is a belt. I fight because I like to fight first and for the belt second.”
When talk turned to the actual opponent threatening to dethrone “King Mo” from atop Strikeforce’s light heavyweight division, the former All-American wrestler gave a straightforward assessment of the situation, making it clear he wasn’t looking past the 9-2 Cavalcante in the process.
“I’ve only been fighting for two years. There’s no pressure on me whatsoever. If there’s pressure on anybody it’s Feijao. He has the name. He’s been fighting longer and he’s been training longer. I remember watching Feijao just mashing people in the IFL. I think people look at me as having the bigger name but I don’t care. I think he’s the favorite. I’m the underdog even though I’m the champ.”
As far as how Lawal sees the bout unfolding, the undefeated champ seemed unconcerned based on his preparation for the title throwdown while also being prepared for the BJJ blackbelt to bring it on his feet.
“My toughest tests so far have been the training. The fights are the easy part. The tough part is training. As far as a plan goes or strategy, I have five of six different plans and pick one going in. If that one doesn’t work I just change it up and go to another one. With (Gegard) Mousasi he was coming up so hard that I had to go for the take down. My plan with Mousasi was to hit him a few times and make him stand and frustrate him. Then I was able to capitalize and get the take down.
I may be implementing a new style like from Bernard Hopkins, one of my favorite boxers. I’m going to implement his style. And maybe if that doesn’t work than a little of Paul Williams. So you’ll all be seeing some new stuff from me.”
“Feijao knows he wants the knock out,” continued Lawal. “He doesn’t want the submission. He trains in the ground game, but I’m training with guys in jiujitsu that are comparable. So I’m not worried at the ground at all because I’ve got good submission defense.”
In addition to Lawal’s championship defense against Cavalcante, “Strikeforce – Houston” also features Tim Kennedy vs. Renaldo “Jacare” Souza in a clash for the middleweight title, Bobby Lashley making his return to the Strikeforce cage, and KJ Noons against Jorge Gurgel in what’s almost guaranteed to be a fast-paced, fun fight.