“King Mo” Lawal's run of unfortunate outcomes has continued its pace for nearly four years. Even though he's found victory multiple times during that period, his career has not experienced the “boom” that was once expected. Now, after serious injuries, being fired from the UFC and a stunning knockout defeat, Muhammed Lawal is at a career crossroads coming into Bellator 123. Dustin Jacoby will be the individual standing across from him and he has the potential to send the former champion's career into a complete downward spiral.
If “King Mo” could step into a time machine, 2010 would perhaps be his first destination. This was the year when everything was going great for the Las Vegas native. Although things would not end well later on in that calendar, he would win the Strikeforce title from Gegard Mousasi in April of 2010. To this date, this is still the biggest win of his career. Since that point Lawal has not had the easiest of times being the high-level mixed martial artist that many pundits thought he would become. In fact, his career has been quite the letdown.
First, it was the TKO defeat to Rafael Cavalcante where he would lose his only moment of holding a mainstream title. After a win over Roger Gracie he would be forced out of competition due to a knee injury, which would become a recurring issue in his career. In 2012 he would then defeat Lorenz Larkin just to have the win overturned because the Nevada State Athletic Commission would find Drostanolone in his drug-test results, as reported by Ken Pishna and Erik Fontanez of MMA Weekly.
Things would only get worse for the former champion. The UFC would purchase Strikeforce, which would give them access to Lawal fighting in the Octagon, however he would never have the chance to perform for the organization. After his hearing in front of the NSAC he made inflammatory statements towards NSAC Commissioner Pat Lundvall on his Twitter profile (via MMA Mania). That comment would result in his jettison from the organization as a whole as they would not stand by and allow him to make such statements.
Lawal did not stay a free agent for long as Bellator would pick him up and give him an opportunity to become a professional wrestler in TNA Wrestling while competing in in their MMA promotion. The way he was announced into the organization made it seem like the company was expecting him to become a major star. Unfortunately for all the parties involved, that would not occur.
In his second fight for the promotion, “King Mo” would face Emanuel Newton. In the first round of the contest he would eat a spinning back fist that would make Lawal the victim of one of the most played knockouts of 2013. Lawal would come back and win two straight just to be defeated by Newton again; this time in an even more convincing fashion.
Bellator MMA would get another opportunity to feature Lawal dead center as he would face Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 120. Lawal would suffer a decision defeat but what was worse is that many felt he actually won the bout with his wrestling attack. This would be yet another setback for Lawal that would leave him looking like the odd man out in the pecking order within the company.
Lawal has a winning record with Bellator MMA at 4-3 but he's yet to defeat any opponent of value. His inability to win the big contests has placed a damper on the outlook of his career. This is where Jacoby enters the picture. At 10-3 Jacoby can actually be called a “UFC Veteran” even though he's suffered two defeats in the promotion. According to MMA Oddsbreaker, Jacoby will come into the event a +400 underdog to Lawal's -600 favorite. Just as the numbers represent, Lawal has everything to lose in this fight.
If Jacoby can pull off the upset victory, which he is capable of doing, “King Mo's” career would be in jeopardy. As Scott Coker leads Bellator into reshaping itself as a MMA promotion, Lawal's value to the organization would be damaged with another defeat. He would also place himself to be cut from the organization if he can't live up to the standards that were placed on him when signed. To make the matters worse, he would have a difficult time rejoining the professional wrestling world as well. According to TMZ, Spike TV recently canceled TNA Wrestling which means they may not be interested in bringing back their high-price “star.” If he were to lose his slot on the Bellator roster, his opportunities in MMA on the mainstream level would be drastically low.
Injuries, controversy and disappointing performances have plagued Muhammed Lawal's career. The former Strikeforce champion is facing a major uphill climb that begins at Bellator 123. The world of professional sports is a fickle place that can turn on an individual with one good or bad performance. If Lawal goes out and earns a win in a drastic, highlight-reel fashion, then he will be on his way to earning the love once again of the MMA community. If not, this may be his last time performing in a mainstream mixed martial arts promotion.