Former UFC light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans was sad to see Mo Lawal’s situation go from bad to worse this past week, he told MMA Fighting. The two are colleagues in the fight game, but they’re also friends, which made it hard to watch as Lawal was released from his shortly after being contractfined and suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday.
"It’s unfortunate, man. Mo’s probably one of the best guys I’ve ever met in the sport, and even outside of the sport," said Evans. "He’s so much different than the character, or what he comes across as. People get the wrong take on Mo."
The way Evans sees it, many people fail to see the distinction between the real Lawal and the "King Mo" persona he’s adopted for the purposes of a little pre-fight entertainment. What they don’t realize is that, whether on Twitter or in person, they’re getting a much more genuine response than they get from many other fighters.
Sometimes, however, that’s a personality trait that comes with certain consequences.
"Mo’s so real," Evans said. "When someone says something to him, it’s hard for him to divorce the fact that they’re saying it to his character and not who he really is as a person. When you say something to him, he gets offended deeply because he’s such a real dude. I feel bad for him. He’s a champion at heart, and I’m sure he’ll find a way to make it back to [Zuffa] or find a way to make it in another organization as a top guy."
The question for Lawal is what he’ll decide to do next. Will he sign with another organization? Will he try to wait out Zuffa’s wrath and then sign a new contract when tempers have cooled?
If Evans had to lay odds on it, he said, he’d bet that Lawal will eventually end up back in one of the two Zuffa-owned organizations. In the meantime, it’s just a matter of making it through the rough times ahead. That’s something Evans knows a little something about, he said.
"I think that everything happens for a reason. I’ve been in a situation where I had to ride out a dark cloud a little bit in my career. I think Mo’s just going to have to ride the dark cloud in his career. I went about a 14-month period of not having a fight and just riding out some of the waves in my life, and that happens. Fighting is not just about fighting -- it’s about life. Sometimes you have those ups and downs in life, just like in your career. But as long as you keep your mind right and on what you really want, and you stay hungry, then you’ll prevail and make it through the storm."