The “King” returned in style last night
After a layoff due to injury, Mo Lawal stepped back into the ring and scored an impressive first round knockout over rising prospect Roger Gracie. The former Oklahoma State wrestling standout kept the fight standing and, after a big right hand, found himself back in both the win column and title contention.
We spoke to Lawal immediately following the fight.
“It felt good out there, man. It felt better to make all those haters mad. I get people on facebook and Twitter that love to talk trash saying “You’re going to get choked out,” or “You’re a bum”. You know how it is on Twitter, man. It felt good to knock Gracie out. He’s a good athlete – a great jiu-jitsu guy – and he obviously took the fight thinking he could beat me, so I proved him wrong too. “
“People thought I was going to take him down because of my wrestling. But real talk, if I would have taken him down I would’ve been in trouble. I worked with my boy Robert Drysdale to get my jiu-jitsu game together and I’m at a place now where I could have survived but I could have gotten in trouble too. Coming into the fight I considered taking him down and punching him but then I realized I just had to hit him with “The Doom Punch”. My trainer Jeff nick named my right hand “The Doom” so I had to hit him with “Doomsday” and he felt it.”
“I didn’t know I could hit that hard, to be honest with you. Whenever I connect with punches it never feels that solid. I see from the results that I sure enough have power there. There was no way he was going to take me down tonight. Jiu-jitsu takedowns are a lot different than wrestling takedowns. I wrestled a guy from Cuba who could throw and was good with over/unders and I beat him because he couldn’t clinch me. I knew it would be the same with Roger.”
Earlier in the week at the pre-fight press conference, the outspoken fighter addressed what he felt was a lack of attention on the card in Cincinnati. In doing so, Lawal also blamed the media for having their heads elsewhere due to the news that was breaking on the west coast.
“It was a great card that was overshadowed by other things that were going on in the MMA world. I don’t have anything against Nick Diaz. He has to make his money. And with the whole GSP situation and Overeem, no one cared about this card. No one cared until today when we started fighting. I’ll be real with you, though – Vitale Klitchko vs. Adamek probably had more hype than this card.
“The turnout tonight was bad, man. The only people that we here tonight and cheering were Daniel Cormier and I’s friends. They were associates, teammates and people that came in from Texas and Louisiana to support us. You could hear them cheering for us, but other than that? I don’t know man.”
The win over Gracie is Lawal’s first since losing his belt to Rafael Calvacante. With the Strikeforce light heavyweight division wide open, Lawal addressed what he would like to see happen next.
“I don’t know what is going to happen and if they send me to the UFC or whatever. I’m still under the Strikeforce contract, but I’m pretty sure whatever happens to me will be good. People say, “Mo, keep working hard because you are in the D2’s or the B League.” But that isn’t the case. We have people who go over to the UFC and get cut from their contract. Strikeforce has no reason to cut me just yet. They can do that and send me over to the UFC, but I’ll be ready for whatever.”
“I’ll fight Feijao, but I really want Dan Henderson. I want to fight Henderson for the belt, but if that can’t happen then I’d love to fight Feijao. He beat my boy tonight (Romero) and it was painful to watch my boy get beat, so I’d love to knock him out too.”