Despite his unbeaten record, "King Mo" Muhammed Lawal
has his share of critics, some of which say he hasn't yet done enough to deserve the interest level he's engendered in the MMA media, others which object to his elaborate entrances as emphasizing substance over style.
But behind the cape and crown is a man who's serious about his craft, a student who can pull obscure facts and figures about his sport from his mind and a fighter who has spent time training with masters like ex-PRIDE champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
, former U.S. Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier
and other notables in an effort to sharpen his skills.
Any suggestion that Lawal is not serious about his business is simply uninformed. But Lawal says even if he beats current Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi
at next month's Strikeforce on CBS show, he still expects there to be people who don't believe in him. That's not something that bothers him in the least, however.
"Not at all," he told MMA Fighting. "I've competed so much in my life, I know how to win. People wonder if I'm ready for Mousasi? Is Mousasi ready for me? What happens when I win? Is everyone going to say, 'Oh, he just had a bad night.' All the people can say is that he has experience over me.
"I don't think I'll get the respect when I win," he continued. "I think people will say, 'Forget it, we overrated Mousasi.' Most people aren't MMA fans. The average people don't know what's up. If you're not in the UFC, they think you're not fighting the best competition. It doesn't matter. I don't care, I'm just going to keep winning."
The 28-year-old Lawal burst on to the scene in Sept. 2008 when he faced respected veteran Travis Wiuff
at Sengoku 5. At the time, Wiuff was nearing his 70th pro fight while Lawal had just transitioned from a decorated career in international amateur wrestling. It was a fight that likely wouldn't have been sanctioned in the United States, but allowed by Japan's more laissez-faire attitude to combat sports.
Lawal announced his presence to the MMA world by thrashing Wiuff in just 2:11 of the first round. In the time since, only one of his six fights -- all wins -- has gone the distance.
Many expected rugged veteran Mike Whitehead
to give Lawal his first real test last Dec., but again Lawal easily faced the challenge, knocking out Whitehead in 3:08.
"Whitehead was a tough challenge, but afterward, people want to say he's a can," Lawal said. "No one knew who I was before that, but after it, now he's a can? You go through my career and look at the tough guys I've faced in my first six fights. Most people don't face guys that tough in their first fights. Other than Brock Lesnar, Joe Warren, and Jung Bu-Kyung. There's only a few people facing guys that tough right from the beginning. People will still talk.
"Look at Mousasi," he continued. "Who's he fought up until Cyborg? Until he got to the DREAM tournament. First five years, he wasn't fighting big names. I didn't hear people saying he should be fighting tougher people."
As for his opponent's current game, Lawal did credit Mousasi for being a smart, thinking fighter, but gave himself the edge in a few categories.
"If I want to get takedowns, I'll get them," he said. "It's not like he has much power. I have more power than he does. Even though he looks crisp, he's got a lot of holes in his standup. He's not going to land. He's taller and rangier, but he's going to feel my power. I've watched all the film on him, but I mean, what film can he watch on me? There's not much to watch, and every time I've been out there, I've fought differently."MMA Fighting will have more with Lawal in the coming days.