Muhammed Lawal is always looking for big fights. He might have been the first person in MMA to use the term “moneyweight.” One would think that the presence of Chael Sonnen in Bellator now would have Lawal salivating over that potential headline bout.
Not so, though.
“King Mo” told MMA Fighting that he has no plans to ever face Sonnen, someone he looked up to as an amateur wrestler and, more so, someone who offered him a hand when he was down. Lawal said he was struck by Sonnen’s generosity years ago when Lawal had potentially life-threatening staph infection.
“When I was sick, he hit me up out of the blue and was like, ‘If you’re hurting for money or anything, if you need help, I got you. I’ve got money put aside. I can give you money to pay your bills,’” Lawal said. … “I didn’t need it, but I was like, ‘Thanks, bro.’ The fact that he reached out to me like that was shocking. Me and Chael are cool, but just for him to put himself out there to help me, not many people would actually help people.”
Lawal, 35, had very bad staph in 2012 following a torn ACL and needed 14 surgeries to treat it. There were times when he though he wouldn’t make it and other times when he was sure he wouldn’t fight again.
Sonnen contacted him suddenly — the two aren’t that close — with that offer and Lawal said he’ll never forget it or stop being grateful. Lawal said the best thing about it is that Sonnen has never really spoken about it publicly.
“People help people, but when they do it’s like a feel-good story,” Lawal said. “Chael came out of the blue. And you know what the funny thing is? When it was all said and done, no one knew but me. And I put it out there, like ‘Chael did this for me.’ … He never said nothing. Still to this day, he don’t bring it up; I bring it up.”
So that’s why you won’t be seeing a Sonnen vs. “King Mo” main event in 2017 or beyond. Lawal has a main event bout with Satoshi Ishii at Bellator 169 on Friday night in Dublin, Ireland. After that, he would not mind getting the winner of the heavyweight bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione.
As for Sonnen, he makes his Bellator debut on Jan. 21 against Tito Ortiz in the headliner of Bellator 170 in Los Angeles.
“Chael is a solid dude and I hope he beats the f*ck out of Tito Ortiz,” Lawal said.
Publicly, Sonnen is a showman. He made his name — and millions of dollars — talking trash to the likes of Anderson Silva. He’s doing the same thing against Ortiz now and the fight is likely to be one of the biggest drawing cards in Bellator history.
Outside that spotlight, though, Sonnen is very different, Lawal said.
“That’s everybody,” Lawal said. “Everybody is somewhat different. I have people coming to me, like ‘Oh, you’re probably an asshole.’ I’m not an asshole. I’m just me. Chael, when it comes to sell a fight, yeah we all have to be a certain way. But when you see him in public, Chael is cool as can be. Cool as can be, man.”