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King Mo

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A self-described "student of the game" of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and other fighting sports, Muhammad Lawal was an accomplished athlete before he professionally entered MMA in 2008. Lawal attended Oklahoma State University where he was member of the wrestling team. In 2002, he won the Division II championship, and the following year he became a Big 12 Champion and Division I All-American. Outspoken and flamboyant in his entrances under the "King Mo" persona, Lawal was presented with his first MMA fight when an injury forced Roger Gracie off the World Victory Road Sengoku 5 card in Tokyo, Japan. With two weeks notice, Lawal substituted for Gracie against the heavily favored veteran Travis Wiuff in a September 2008 Heavyweight bout. Lawal avoided most of the attacks from the much bigger Wiuff, while throwing punches. Lawal staggered Wiuff with a flying right punch by the second minute, then a double-leg take-down against the ropes, and landed several punches to win by technical knockout. Lawal next fought Fabio Silva at Sengoku 6. Silva landed a right low kick to Lawal's right leg and was soon taken down via double-leg. Lawal hit Silva with multiple punches at the edge of the ropes and controlled him. Silva returned to his feet and Lawal took down against the ropes by single-leg after some resistance. Lawal moved Silva to a corner post of the ring and continued the control from top. Lawal landed some legal knees to Silva's face on his way to standing up. Lawal moved away and avoided a right head kick then took Silva down for a third time before the round expired. Lawal held Silva's both legs, picked him up and threw him to the ground to resume top control, and later landed legal knees to the downed Silva who fought back to his feet. Lawal took him down by single-leg and retained control until the end of the second round. A more aggressive Silva went after Lawal at the start of the third round, and Lawal him with a uppercut and hook then took him down to a corner of the ring. Lawal hit him with several rights hands until the bout was stopped at forty-one seconds in the last round. In January 2009, Lawal competed at "Sengoku no Ran 2009" against Yukiya Naito. Naito attacked him with leg kicks, while Lawal employed a strategy of moving forward with punches. A powerful right hand from Lawal to Naito's face made him wobble. Lawal continued his punching attack on the ground and ended with left punches to Naito's face until he collapsed on his stomach. Two months after he fought the Light Heavyweight King of Pancrease 'Ryo Kawamura' at Sengoku 7. The bout went the full fifteen minutes with all 3 rounds characterized by Lawal taking Kawamura to the mat with slams, numerous take-downs and controlling his opponent's back while landing punches. r Lawal won by unanimous decision and revealed that he had incurred a tear in his left ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) the week before while training with Dean Lister. Lawal cited the injury as a reason for not decisively finishing Kawamura with a rear-naked choke submission, which is commonly used with both legs to control the opponent's body. The left ACL surgery kept him out of action until his return fight five months later against Mark Kerr in the Heavyweight division at M-1 Global's "Breakthrough". Lawal caught Kerr's left leg and hoisted him up then threw him to the mat at the bout's start. Lawal attacked from Kerr's back with punches to the face, sending Kerr's mouthpiece across the canvas to win by knockout in 25 seconds. Lawal signed with Strikeforce (2009) because the promotion allows fighters to compete in other organizations. His first bout in the promotion took place at Strikeforce: Evolution (2009) where he moved up in weight to fight Mike Whitehead, whom he said insisted their bout happen at Heavyweight. Whitehead attacked Lawal with leg kicks and attempted to take him to the ground which Lawal defended. Lawal established a pattern of landing a counter left punch after Whitehead would throw a leg kick. After another left leg kick by Whitehead, Lawal connected with a right punch and followed Whitehead to the mat with a left punch then knocked him out with a succession of right punches. The California State Athletic Commission later fined Lawal $2000 of the $20,000 he earned from the bout for spilling drinks inside the cage while celebrating. Lawal moved down a weight class to challenge Gegard Mousasi for Strikeforce's World Light Heavyweight Championship at CBS Strikeforce Saturday Night Fights (2010). Lawal controlled the fight with an early single-leg take-down in round 1 and attacked from the top. Mousasi gets up and exchange strikes with Lawal who gets a second take-down. Round 2 began with another take-down by Lawal who met opposition from a more active Mousasi who lands several hammer-fists from his back. The fight is stood up and Lawal gets another take-down and avoids Mousasi's submissions. Mousasi fought to the feet and takes his opponent back to attempt a rear-naked choke at round's end. Mousasi initiated punches, knees, and kicks at the start of the round 3, and Lawal exchanged punches then got a leg trip take-down to resume control on the ground near the fence for most of the round. Mousasi was again aggressive at the start of round 4, with punches and kicks. Lawal hit him with punches then took him to the ground. The fight was later stood by the referee John McCarthy and Mousasi landed some punches. Lawal got a single-leg take-down to control the action further. Lawal gets a double-leg take-down against the fence at the start of the 5th and final round following a brief exchange of punches. Mousasi landed an illegal up-kick from his back and was deducted a point by the referee. The fight was resumed with Lawal in top control. Mousasi returned to his feet to briefly control Lawal's back. Lawal shrugs him off and gets another take-down. They were stood up again and exchanged punches before Lawal secured a final take-down near round's end. Lawal unanimously won the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championships from all three judges who scored it 49 to 45 each. Renato Sobral had defeated Robbie Lawler at Strikeforce: Los Angeles (2010) to earn the right to challenge Lawal for the title. Babalu declined to fight Lawal--his training partner and friend--who was booked to face the next contender: Rafael Cavalcante ("Feijao"). Feijao met Lawal for the title at Strikeforce: Houston (2010). Lawal took control in the first round by slamming Feijao to the ground. Feijao returned to his feet and avoided being taken down again. Lawal's secured another take-down in round two and landed strikes. Additional take-down attempts were defended by Feijao, and in round three he hurt Lawal with knees and elbows to win the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title. Lawal had surgery the following month due to a torn right ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament). He returned to MMA competition in September 2011 for Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov (2011) to fight the undefeated Roger Gracie. Lawal and Gracie were tentative in the opening minutes until Gracie connected with a jumping knee. Lawal hit Gracie with two overhand right punches then followed him to the ground with a third and fourth punch to win by technical knockout. In his next bout he faced another undefeated opponent in Lorenz Larkin on the card at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine (2012). In the first minute of the bout, Lawal caught Larkin's left leg and threw him to the ground after some resistance. He proceeded to control Larkin on the ground and landed strikes in between until the final minute when the fighters were stood up and Larkin landed left hooks near the round's end. Lawal again took Larkin to the ground via a single-leg early in the round then landed a succession of right punches to Larkin's head before the bout was stopped and declared a technical knockout. In the post fight interview with Mauro Ranallo, Lawal said he thought referee Kim Winslow allowed Larkin to receive too many strikes before intervening. He said her response was that she wanted to give Larkin enough time to defend himself. Days following the bout with Larkin, Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) chief Keith Kizer revealed that Lawal had tested positive for the banned steroid Drostanolone. Lawal denied the accusations in an ESPN interview, saying he is careful of what he uses. Lawal had another ACL replacement surgery while awaiting further news from the NSAC. Following his release from the hospital, his knee had a life-threatening stap (staphylococcus) infection which resulted in five additional medical procedures during a 12-day hospital stay. He recovered from the severe situation and later met with members of the NSAC for a hearing on March 27, 2012. Lawal acknowledged the banned substance found in his body was from a once legally available over-the-counter supplement that had been removed from the market. The NSAC overturned his win over Larkin to a "No Contest", and levied financial penalties against him plus a nine month suspension. Lawal took issue with the questioning of a particular commission member, Pat Lundvall, and made negative comments about that her online later that day. Soon after Strikeforce (2009) CEO Scott Coker issued a statement that Lawal was released from his contract because of the comments. Lawal's manager Mike Kogan was informed of the action. After Lawal apologized, Strikeforce's parent company, Zuffa , kept open the possibility that he could work for them in the future. Lawal joined Julie Kedzie and Mauro Ranallo in doing commentary for the new all-women promotion, Invicta Fighting Championships, which held its first event on April 28, 2012. Lawal's future plans were revealed in an appearance with Dixie Carter and Bjorn Rebney on King Mo Reigns (2012). They announced that Lawal had signed a joint contract to appear in TNA Impact! Wrestling (2004) and return to MMA in Bellator Fighting Championships (2009) when he recovers. In January 2013, he advanced in the quarterfinal round of the Season 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament at Bellator MMA 86 (2013) for his first Bellator bout. He fought Przemyslaw Mysiala and demonstrated better punching which earned him a first technical knock-out win.  See full bio on IMDb »

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