King Mo – Is the Recent Hype Unjustified?
By Christopher Jester
It seems like nearly everyone in the media is so quick to say that “King Mo” Lawal is back. With a week to resonate on this, it still seems like the rants were a bit premature. He still has some way to go before he proves that he is the man Bellator risked so much on. Likely, a win in this summer’s Bellator light-heavyweight tournament will be the key.
Last week at Bellator 96, King Mo landed a devastating knockout against Seth Petruzelli, knocking him out cold with one punch. That was the first appearance of the King Mo we respected when he was over at Strikeforce. It only took Lawal 1 minute and 39 seconds to make this a quick night for Petruzelli. Lawal initiated the match with what seemed like King Mo going back to his roots with his wrestling but then an inadvertent head clash from a feigned takedown briefly stopped the fight. The fight restarted and King Mo shot another takedown, something he had not done in his recent fights. From this position, it eventually led to the memorable KO that finished Petruzelli.
He looked like the King Mo Lawal of old and numerous people in the media jumped on that.
Where the concerns come in is since coming to Bellator, Lawal has appeared somewhat listless or uncaring. As his performances often seemed to say, “I am better than you. You know it. I know it.” Likely because of his success with his improved standup skills, Lawal had been leaning heavily on a boxing first approach. His true talent lies in his wrestling and he made use of it in his recent fight with Petruzelli. Before that however, it often got him into trouble in his fights in Bellator.
Anyone who saw the Emanuel Newton fight could see that Lawal lowering his arms would eventually spell disaster. A spinning backfist that had Lawal out on his feet was the price to pay for keeping his guard down. Perhaps, it was this that became the wake-up call to go back to what was winning fights. Takedowns. For Lawal, his natural strength will come and it will inevitably set up shots like the one he finished Petruzelli with.
In the pre-fight promo against Petruzelli, Lawal spoke out against the spinning backfist thrown by Newton. The truth is, it happened and many fans won’t soon be forgetting it. It was impressive and the buildup behind Lawal only put a spotlight on the finish. It was this year’s real first upset and a devastating KO. In some ways, if Newton does not capitalize on anything else, the KO may very well become the highlight of his career.
Lawal may be back to form, but to truly dispel in negative talk and pessimism, Lawal will have to win the light-heavyweight tournament and challenge for the title. That Newton KO will hang over Lawal’s reputation like a dark cloud until he accomplishes Bellator title success. This could even be the fuel to help him win this summer’s tournament. Even with a championship claim, Lawal should still want a rematch against Newton – just to clear that violent image from his head and from the fan’s minds.
Just 2-1 in Bellator, Lawal has a lot riding on him. Viacom has poured a lot of stock into Lawal and he needs to deliver in order to remain a commodity within Bellator and mixed martial arts. But he is only one more fight away from challenging for an eventual shot at the winner of the Attila Vegh and Emanuel Newton light-heavyweight championship bout. In his way stands Jacob Noe and on July 31st, the two will clash. A victory will help King Mo continue to prove that his hype is justified.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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