It's been six months since former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion "King" Mo Lawal made his debut with Bellator, and while not everything has gone right inside the cage, life is good on the outside.
Lawal inked his deal with the promotion after his release from Strikeforce last year, but his contract with Bellator was unlike anything else that had ever been done in the industry up to that point. The deal points including a long-term fight contract with Bellator, along with a deal to begin his pro-wrestling career at TNA Impact Wrestling.
Since he signed with the promotion, he's seen his fair share of fighters bashing Bellator like it's the fun thing to do right now. He's watched former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez's contract situation unfold while fans and journalists alike have jumped on the bandwagon to slam the promotion for their perceived mistreatment of athletes.
The fact is, according to Lawal, there's always going to be disgruntled employees—whether it's in Bellator, the UFC or players making millions of dollars in the NFL.
"Not everybody can be happy," Lawal told Bleacher Report recently. "There's guys that are unhappy in the UFC, but just won't speak out."
Despite the fact that he no longer works with Zuffa (parent company of the UFC), who he fought for while competing under the Strikeforce brand, Lawal still cherishes the time he spent with the promotion. He's now even happier to be competing for Bellator and pursuing his dream as a pro wrestler in TNA.
To hear Lawal explain it, some places are just a better fit for certain fighters. That's why he was happy to welcome in former UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who will join him on the Bellator and TNA rosters later this year.
"You can't please everybody. With me, I had a great time at Strikeforce, I'm having a lovely time with TNA and Bellator," Lawal said. "I'll speak on me, I'm loving it. You can ask Joe Warren, he's loving it. Ask Rampage, I told him you made the best move. I texted him and was like this is the best move you could have made, dog. Now you'll be treated like a human being and you're going to be respected."
Respect is the key word for Lawal when talking about his promoters at Bellator. They treat him like a professional athlete, and he appreciates everything they've done for him thus far.
Lawal knows, however, the same can't be said for some fans who are going to make up their opinions about him or Bellator, and there's just no changing some people.
"You're going to be respected by your co-workers and the people you work for—the fans f—k them," Lawal stated emphatically. "Because some fans, the ones that are positive, show them love. I ain't got time for negativity just like (Rampage) doesn't have time for negativity. You just block the haters out."
The "haters," as Lawal puts it, came out in full force when he lost his last fight to Emanuel Newton back in February. The fight was supposed to be Lawal's path to the Bellator tournament finals, where he would then earn a shot at the light heavyweight title.
Instead, Lawal was a victim of a devastating spinning back fist knockout that landed him on the wrong end of a highlight reel that even made it to Joe Rogan's podcast when he just so happened to be interviewing UFC President Dana White at the time.
The loss doesn't necessarily haunt Lawal the way that some defeats always pop up for a fighter, but he's not exactly letting it go either.
"After I lost that fluke match to (Emanuel) Newton, granted congratulations throwing the spinning back fist. You just threw it, you didn't know, but whatever I got caught," Lawal said about the loss. "The fact that he said he looked over his shoulder before throwing the spinning back first? Please. Get out of here with that. Come on. Like he's Neo from The Matrix or something."
One day soon, Lawal knows he will cross paths with Newton again, and he plans for a much different outcome in the rematch.
"I want it. The thing is my goal is to get that belt. So if I have to whoop his ass to get the belt, that would be even better," Lawal said about Newton. "If he loses to Attila Vegh, and he has to fight his way to get to me, then he'll get an ass whooping when he gets to me. Eventually, I will see him."
Lawal will be starting back on his path to the title on Wednesday, and to borrow a page from his pro-wrestling personality, he quoted the infamous legend Ric Flair for his inspiration to get back to the Bellator gold.
"We're in Bellator—you have to beat the man to be the man," Lawal said. "I know it's going to happen."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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