The transition from the world of mixed martial arts into pro wrestling isn’t a walk in the park.
Following names such as Josh Barnett, Bobby Lashley, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock, “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal is looking to do both. Brock Lesnar did both, too, but he did it one at a time -- first with WWE, then left, eventually signed with UFC, retired from UFC, recently returned to WWE.
Lawal signed simultaneously with Bellator Fighting Championships and TNA Impact Wrestling. A current employer of each, he is preparing with dual training for dual action.
Bo knew baseball and football. Mo knows MMA and is about to know pro wrestling.
It’s quite the comeback for Lawal, who is recouping from a knee injury and staph infection and regrouping from a suspension from fighting after testing positive for a banned steroid. His last fight was in January against Lorenz Larkin, which ended up being his final for Strikeforce. The controversial exit stemmed from disparaging remarks on Twitter he made toward a Nevada State Athletic member (He has since apologized.). Things looked up for Lawal in May when his 12-month suspension was lessened to nine.
Now the charismatic personality is ready to continue his career in MMA and Bellator, as well as start a new one with TNA.
“After what happened with me and Strikeforce, the Bellator deal came,” he said. “Then they came to me saying, ‘We have an even better deal.’ So they called me two days after that with [TNA President] Dixie Carter on the phone saying she wanted me to do TNA Impact Wrestling as well. I was cool with that when I heard what they were offering me. Now I’m all aboard.”
Lawal is no stranger to wrestling (amateur) and enters the pro ranks with some impressive credentials. He was a NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University and a three-time U.S. National Champion in the 84 kilogram division. He is also a gold medalist in the Pan American Games as part of the U.S. national team and took home silver in the World Cup.
The dedicated athlete is ready to give it his all in juggling MMA and pro wrestling.
“I got two jobs now with Spike TV,” he said. “I’m going to work for TNA as much as I can, but if I have a fight coming up and I’m training, then you won’t see me as much on there. My plan is to be on TNA two or three times a month or whenever they can book me.
With his knee almost rehabbed, training is expected to begin with the likes of TNA’s Al Snow at Ohio Valley Wrestling, a developmental partner of TNA in Louisville. Lawal will also getting his MMA game in order for his return fight in 2013.
“I’ve been hitting mitts and starting my MMA training,” Lawal said.
“After that, we will start sparring and get to work with my boy Roy Nelson. Then I plan to make a trip out to Holland to work with Mike’s Gym and then get down to work with my boy Rashad [Evans] a little bit. My boy Jeff Mayweather, I plan to get with him. I’m going to do what I normally do and do my camp at AKA [American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose], but also make some trips here and there to fine tune some things. I’m ready.”
Lawal is also ready to get going in the squared circles of TNA.
“I’m going to put it like this,” Lawal said. “I’m going to be on TV sooner than you all think.”