It's pretty rare to see a fighter turn his back on the UFC in his prime. If anything, it's usually the other way around.
But that's exactly what Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal did yesterday, eschewing a likely contract from Zuffa in favor of a double-pronged deal with Spike TV, which will allow the affable light heavyweight to compete in both Bellator (starting in 2013) and TNA Impact Wrestling (starting this summer).
While news of the signing was somewhat surprising at first -- it's not often a world-class fighter flips the bird at the big leagues and signs a deal to fight in an organization whose world champion is Christian freakin' M'Pumbu -- it does offer an intriguing upside that could (eventually) make it the right call.
Ultimately, in the UFC, there's a very real chance Lawal would have just been another top-10 205-pounder. Good enough to stay relevant, but not quite at the level of a Jon Jones. But with Spike, King Mo can become something more. With his supreme combination of talent and charisma, Lawal has the potential to be the posterchild for a network that, like it or not, is still widely associated with mixed martial arts to the general public.
It's a bold move, but one that could pay dividends for both parties. By hitting the TNA circuit this summer, Lawal can become the star of Spike, and eventually serve as a transitional face to introduce a new audience to Bellator in 2013.
It's not quite UFC glory. In fact, I'm not exactly sure what it is. But regardless, it's something we have yet to see in the modern era of western MMA, so it'll probably be a fascinating experiment.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
"King Mo" signs with Bellator, TNA. Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal signed side-by-side deals to simultaneously fight and wrestle professionally. Lawal is set to begin competing for Bellator Fighting Championships in 2013, and will join TNA's Impact Wrestling as early as this summer.
The Ultimate Fighter: U.K. vs Australia. UFC President Dana White officially announced the next international season of The Ultimate Fighter, which will feature a country vs. country battle between the United Kingdom and Australia. Nicknamed "The Smashes," the show is set to open tryouts in Sydney on June 12, and London on June 15, for all fighters between the flyweight and welterweight classes.
Kazushi Sakuraba to fight retirement match against Shinya Aoki. Japanese MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba has agreed to fight top lightweight Shinya Aoki an at upcoming DREAM event. Sakuraba will reportedly retire following the match.
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Kennedy. Luke Rockhold is slated to defend his Strikeforce middleweight belt against former Army special forces operator Tim Kennedy at a Strikeforce show in Portland, Oregon on July 14th, 2012.
Bellator 68 weigh-in results. All fighters met their required weight at Thursday's official Bellator 68 weigh-ins, included featherweight finalists Marlon Sandro and Daniel Straus.
If you've ever had a strange fantasy about Chael Sonnen cooking you a personal pizza on the mean streets of West Linn, Orgeon -- well, you definitely need better fantasies, but you're also in luck. (HT: MiddleEasy)
We're setting the over/under of hurling your phone into the wall at roughly 3 minutes for Rampage Jackson's new iPhone app. (HT: Reddit)
To commemorate the end of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, Showtime has uploaded every single tournament fight for our viewing pleasure. And what better way to start off than with the one that broke all of our hearts.
If you're itching to get hyped for Saturday's Nick Diaz vs. Braulio Estima superfight, look no further than this official countdown film by Stuart Cooper.
IGNITING A RIVALRY
It's official!!! Ultimate Fighter is going to Australia. TUF Australia vs TUF UK "The Smaches" in Fall 2012 :)— Dana White (@danawhite) May 11, 2012
HOLY CRAP LOOK AT HIGH-SCHOOL RASHAD
Rashad Evans (@SugaRashadEvans) May 11, 2012
Good to be home in Montreal for a few weeks. Almost 5 months since my surgery, rehab continues but I see light at the end of the tunnel!— Georges St-Pierre(@GeorgesStPierre) May 9, 2012
Announced yesterday (Thursday, May 10, 2012):
- Strikeforce: Luke Rockhold (9-1) vs. Tim Kennedy (14-3) announced for July 14
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes from Sweet Scientist, who offers a encyclopedic videosplosion you could easily sink 45 minutes into: Traditional striking arts
Kyokushin Karate was founded in 1964 by Masutatsu Oyama. It was the first Jissen style of Karate.
Rules: 1x2 minute round (3 minutes in the semifinals and finals of a tournament) with a possibility for 2 extra 2 minutes rounds in case of a draw. Full contact (KO allowed). Punches and elbows to the chest allowed, kicks and knees allowed on all striking levels. If a contestant is knocked down for more than three seconds, his opponent scores an Ippon and wins the fight. If a contestant is knocked down for less than 3 seconds, his opponent scores a Waza Ari (half point), if a contestant scores 2 Waza Ari, he wins the fight.
So, what does it look like?:
Notable fighters: Ryu Narushima (that lead high kick), Lechi Kurbanov (P4P best spinning shit thrower in the world), Andy Hug (RIP, incredible Kakato geri), Francisco Filho (one of the few to have completed the Hyakunin Kumite, 100 man kumite), Glaube Feitosa (popularized the Brazilian Kick), Kenji Midori, Ewerton Teixeira, Nicholas Pettas.
Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in Monday's post.