Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion "King" Mo Lawal got his day in court with the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday, but he’ll go home $39,000 poorer as a result of it.
The NSAC voted to suspend Lawal for nine months as a result of a positive steroid test following his Jan. 7 win over Lorenz Larkin. It also voted to take his $15,000 win bonus, and fine him 30 percent of his $80,000 show purse -- a total penalty of $39,000 on the $95,000 he made for the bout. The result of the fight was also changed from a TKO win for Lawal to a ‘no contest.’
According to Lawal, the outcome of the hearing wasn’t necessarily a shock, but it also didn’t necessarily seem fair to him to have commission members accuse him of misrepresenting the extent of his knee injury coming into the bout, he said.
"They come out hard on everybody," Lawal told MMA Fighting moments after the hearing concluded. "Pretty much, when you come to [an NSAC hearing], you’re going to lose. That’s how I see it. I feel like they tried to twist my words a little bit by saying that I was injured coming into the fight. ...All fighters have some types of bumps and bruises, but I felt like I came into that fight pretty good. I mean, you couldn’t tell that I had unstable cartilage, could you?"
Since testing positive for the steroid Drostanolone, Lawal and manager Mike Kogan have repeatedly claimed that a nutritional supplement -- S-Mass Lean Gainer -- was the real culprit. But the commission seized on Lawal’s failure to disclose his usage of the supplement and the lingering knee injury that he says necessitated it, and ultimately decided not to grant him leniency.
To hear Lawal tell it, what bothered him more than the fine and the suspension was the suggestion that he had lied about his knee injury or attempted to gain an unfair advantage.
"The whole cheating [accusation], their attitude about that, that’s what got me," Lawal said. "I feel like I just wasted my time there, to be honest with you."
The nine-month suspension is retroactive to the date of the fight, meaning that Lawal can re-apply for a license in September of 2012. Lawal estimated he wouldn’t be physically ready to fight before next fall anyway, thanks to issues stemming from a staph infection he contracted following knee surgery in January. The infection is now "pretty much gone," according to Lawal, but after losing 30 pounds in the last couple months he still has a lengthy rehab ahead of him.
As for what he learned from his day with the NSAC? The takeaway lesson there is a simple one, Lawal said.
"My advice to anyone dealing with the [Nevada State Athletic] Commission is, just do it over the phone. Don’t waste your time coming to Vegas, because you will get got. I had a few people tell me that, to just do it over the phone. Maybe I should have listened to them, but I felt like I needed to come tell my side of the story and I did. It made no difference."