After earning a cool $300,000 paycheck for his victory in the RIZIN heavyweight tournament, "King Mo" Lawal has decided he's okay with getting paid.
So when you ask the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion which fight he wants next, it's simple: Whichever opponent makes him the most dough.
The 35-year-old Lawal could go ahead with the postponed bout with Bellator's Phil Davis, or he could take on Fedor Emelianenko over in Japan.
Lawal said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour that he's open to either.
"March or April vs. Fedor or Phil Davis," Lawal said. "Either one. Whichever one pays the most."
Of course, there's appeal in both. Emelianenko, though 39, is one of the most legendary names in the history of the sport. Though Emelianenko was criticized for fighting the inexperienced Jaideep Singh in his return from a three-year hiatus, Lawal believes Fedor's got more fight left in him than people seem to think.
"If RIZIN wants me to fight somebody like Fedor I'd definitely do that," Lawal said. "I'd definitely do that. I won the tournament, he won his fight. I'm kind of a heavyweight, moneyweight. I'll fight anybody that's there. Fedor's a good name. People want to bash him and say he's washed up, but they don't know. I'm smaller than him. If anything, I'm at a disadvantage, He's a name, he's bigger, more experienced. I'm willing to fight him, I'll fight everyone."
And there are solid reasons to fight Davis, too. Davis and Lawal were on course to meet in the finals of the Bellator: Dynamite light heavyweight tournament after both won their first-round fight. But Lawal had to pull out with a rib injury, while Davis went on to finish substitute Francis Carmont on the finals.
The fact he had to withdraw from the fight still eats at Lawal to this day.
"Man I hated it, you saw my rib," Lawal said. "Everyone said ‘Mo faked it.' Why would I fake a payday? Why would I back out of a payday, man? You know what I'm saying? tried to do everything I could to continue, but I couldn't go. You know, it was was just rough, man. It was embarrassing, I feel like I can beat Phil, I think it's a fight that can still happen. It would have been big time fight for me, fa ight for me to shine in."
Either way, coming off wins in three days, Lawal is a hotter commodity than he's been since his Strikeforce reign. While he insists he's down to fight either Emelianenko or Davis, there's one small difference that could lead to him favoring Emelianenko: If he fights in Japan, he could get to wear his wrestling shoes again.
Lawal wore his wrestling shoes on the suggestion of Hall of Famer Mark Coleman, who wore his wrestling footwear when winning the legendary PRIDE 2000 Open Weight Grand Prix tournament. Whether it was simply a psychological edge, Lawal believed it made a difference.
"It's crazy because, I don't train with shoes, I train barefooted," Lawal said. "So Mark Coleman was like, ‘Mo, I won this tournament wearing shoes, you need to wear shoes too, we're both wrestlers.' So I was like you know what I put them on, I get there, they're magical. In Japan, the canvas in Japan, the surface they fight on, is like straight canvas, you ain't gonna slip. You get rope burns, mat burns, on your knees, on your feet, but in America, the canvas is more slippery. I don't know, I really can't tell, I felt comfortable with them, I competed in them for so many years in wrestling. It just felt like I should just wear them. Then when Coleman tells me to wear them I said you know what, I'm going to do what Coleman says. I'm going to listen to the Hammer. He's a Hall of Famer. I did and it paid off."