When Bellator MMA light heavyweight Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal speaks out about something in the world of combat sports, there’s little doubt he’s coming from a place of knowledge.
The former NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State was an MMA champion at 205 pounds with Strikeforce and is also a huge boxing fan who trains with coach Jeff Mayweather, the former pro boxer and uncle of Floyd Mayweather. Lawal also knows a thing or two about pro wrestling, having performed sporadically with TNA (Total Impact Wrestling) from 2012-2015.
Lawal, 36, looked back on the difficulty of his original WWE tryout in 2007, remembering that initial feeling of taking his first bump.
“I said this and I’m going to say it again — MMA is a lot easier than pro wrestling. Hands down, hands down,” Lawal said. “There are times that I fought three times in two nights [in MMA]. Whatever. And then I went home, took a week off and trained again. I did three matches in two days at OVW [Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE’s former development territory ] and I was sore for two and a half weeks. I mean sore. … That’s when I realized maybe wrestling wasn’t for me.”
Lawal turned down WWE’s offer in 2007 and instead pursued an MMA career. But after UFC purchased the Strikeforce promotion in 2011 (dissolving it less than two years later), Lawal signed with Bellator in 2012 and simultaneously inked a deal with TNA to wrestle (both promotions aired on Spike TV).
But back in 2007, “King Mo” admits he was a wide-eyed mark when he got off the plane in Kentucky for his WWE tryout alongside fellow prospect Brock Lesnar protege Brandon Eggum (now the University of Minnesota head wrestling coach). He was instantly put to work by the likes of coaches Tom Prichard, Jim Cornette and Al Snow.
“The bumps were not a big thing, it’s just hitting the ropes and…