King Mo Lawal (13-4-1) is one of the most recognizable names and faces of the Bellator banner. He first came onto the MMA radar in Strikeforce, where he went on to defeat Gegard Mousasi for the Strikeforce light heavyweight title. While originially set to face Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Tom DeBlass, yet another injury has changed King Mo’s opponent. We ask how King Mo how he plans to change his game for new opponent Joe Vedepo.
Scifighting: You’ve have had 3 opponent changes in your last 2 fights due to injury. Why do you believe so many MMA athletes are suffering from injuries of late?
King Mo: I have no idea. Part of it could be nutrition, part of it could be back luck, and part of it could be bad training partners. It could be that they’re training with big guys. Who knows? I couldn’t tell you unless I was there.
SF: How much sparring do you do in training? That seems to be where a lot of guys are getting hurt the most.
King Mo: It depends on sparring in what way. I guarantee you people get hurt more practicing wrestling and jiu-jitsu than sparring with strikes. People don’t think about that because sparring is hard, but jiu-jitsu and wrestling are actually a lot harder.
SF: Do you think injuries are most likely to happen in striking or grappling exercises?
King Mo: Grappling. Think about this, when do you ever hear about a boxer tearing an ACL? In boxing, you can get knocked out or get a concussion, might strain a muscle, might pop a rib etc. But in wrestling, you get torn ACL’s and tweaked knees. Kickboxing can be rough on you too, but I guess it depends on the person. Our practices at American Top team are hard, super hard in sparring.
SF: There were 3 Bellator fights held alongside the Monster Energy Cup. How do you feel about how that looks for the promotion? Do you expect to see more of that in the future?
King Mo: I see it as good for the sport and good for the organization. I have no idea what they’re gonna do, but I think it’s a great that they’re working with Monster at events like that.
SF: Are you going to lean on your wrestling or your striking abilities for this fight? You have strong experience with both.
King Mo: I train both. It’s like this, I train both equally and even because when it comes down to it I have to be prepared for any game plan. Whatever my coaches think I should do.
SF: How do you think ahead in a fight? Does fighting intuition come naturally to you?
King Mo: I try to use my intuition. I’m offensive in there, but I think ahead. If you want to battle with my hands, I’ll fight you with my hands. If there’s a chance to take you down, I’ll take you down. I just go out there and do whatever works at the time.
SF: Do you feel more pressure for this fight because it’s such a hyped event? Especially with the Bonnar and Ortiz ordeal.
King Mo: No, I’m not worried about anyone but myself. Tito’s got to handle Bonnar. I’m just gonna go out there, take care of business and beat this dude Joe Vedepo. He’s a tough dude from Iowa. He knows how to wrestle, he has good hands, he’s confident that he can beat me and he’s in shape so we’ll see what’s up.
SF: How does the last minute opponent change affect you? It makes it very difficult to hype a fight if your opponenets are always changing.
King Mo: Opponents get hurt you know what I’m saying? It just happens. You’re always going to have injuries.
SF: What are your other thoughts heading into Bellator 131? It’s arguably the biggest Bellator event of the year
King Mo: My goal is just to go out there and win. I don’t ask what their plans are, I just know it’s payday and I’m gonna take it. I just worry about going out there and getting the victory. I’m not worried about anything else.
Catch King Mo vs. Joe Vedepo in the main card of Bellator 131 on November 15th on Spike TV at 9/8C.