Ryo Kawamura came to the SENGOKU 7 press conference with his King of Pancrase belt slung over his shoulder and carried another one of his title belts under his arm. All the accolades and awards did nothing to help Kawamura when he stepped into the ring against “King Mo,” Muhammed Lawal on Friday, March 20, 2009 in Tokyo.
It was Mo’s fourth professional bout and it was Kawamura’s fifteenth. However, to the untrained eye watching the fight, one would swear Mo was the veteran. The Oklahoma State wrestling champion had his first pro MMA fight only six months ago and he is now headlining arenas in Japan in front of tens of thousands of fans. That is not normal.
Little is normal about the Murfreesboro, Tennessee born fighter, from his uncanny athleticism to his highly unusual friends. From his ring entrance to his ring exit, it is hard to take your eyes off of everything he does. They call him “King Mo,” but very soon, “King of Sengoku” may be more appropriate. He had only been off the plane from Japan a few hours when PRO MMA (promma.info) got the call from one of the fastest rising stars in MMA, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.
PRO MMA: How you doing Mo?
KING MO: My hand is swollen but I can move it now. I heal real fast. I’m not worried about any injuries.
PRO MMA: Congratulations. You had an awesome fight. Once again you come away with the victory.
KING MO: Thanks.
PRO MMA: First of all, I wanted to clear up a bit of confusion I had with your contract. When I first spoke with you back in November, you said you had two fights left on your contract but that does not seem to be the case. Could you explain what is going on with that.
KING MO: Yeah, it’s a weird situation but…this could be my last fight if they don’t have me on the next show. It just depends. Ryan’s [Ryan Parsons-his manager] got to work that angle, I don’t really know how to explain it.
PRO MMA: So you’ve got at least one more fight on your contract?
KING MO: Yeah. Depending on if they put me on there, yeah.
PRO MMA: Did you feel yourself getting frustrated during the fight with Ryo Kawamura at any time?
KING MO: My knee kept on giving. I hit him with the jab and I knew that it hurt him. He didn’t really hit that hard but I just didn’t want to get hit, you know what I’m sayin’? In Japan, you never know how the judging goes. I got frustrated when I took him down and tried to ground and pound him and he kept crawling through the ropes.
PRO MMA: That is what I was thinking. When he kept putting his head through the ropes, that would have really frustrated me. And it would have really frustrated me especially since the referees didn’t stop it. I didn’t understand that. Yet they give you a yellow card for poking him in the eye [by accident].
KING MO: Yeah, I know. I didn’t mean to poke him in the eye. I don’t play dirty.
PRO MMA: I don’t understand why on an accident like that they would give you a yellow card.
KING MO: Yeah, I don’t know. They tried to accuse me backstage of greasing.
PRO MMA: Are you serious?
KING MO: Yeah.
PRO MMA: Oh my god.
KING MO: It was funny. It was real funny actually. I was like, “whatever.”
PRO MMA: Was that coming from Kawamura’s camp or Sengoku?
KING MO: I have no idea. The referees. I don’t grow hair on my arms and my skin is smooth. Everyday I shower and wear lotion. But on fight day I shower early in the morning and I put lotion on, like seven in the morning, so by the time of the fight the lotion is off my skin. So we got alcohol and rubbed my skin with alcohol just to make sure…and they were still complaining…I don’t know what they wanted from me but…
PRO MMA: So are they wanting to file an official complaint or anything?
KING MO: No, this was BEFORE the fight. Before the fight they were trying to check me for grease…and all this other “BS”.
PRO MMA: Did they dock anything from your purse because of that yellow card?
KING MO: I don’t know yet. We’re still trying to talk to them about that. So quite possibly, yeah. I tried to finish the fight and they like me over there because they know I try to finish the fight.
PRO MMA: Do you ever feel the Japanese fighters maybe get some preferential treatment from the refs?
KING MO: Yeah, they do, it’s not that good. Trust me. I want to tell you something. In wrestling, you want to see preferential treatment, there have been times overseas, in Turkey where I was wrestling a guy, and they didn’t give me a point until after I won. But if he would have out-scored me, he would have won. They will cheat you overseas. Like with thirty seconds left and the score clock might black out or they’ll pull the plug and add extra time on just to win, you know what I’m saying? So I’ve had to face odds like like that in wrestling, but in MMA yeah, but it’s not like wrestling.
PRO MMA: Have you had a chance to watch the fight yet? What did you think about any comments Bas and Kenny may have had?
KING MO: Yeah a little bit. Yeah I could have kneed to the body a little more and kneed the legs more. They said with my showboating…everybody talks about showboating, saying I do it too much, but I did it for a special reason this fight due to the fact I couldn’t come forward and put on the pressure like I wanted to this fight cause I couldn’t plant on my back leg. So I wanted to taunt him to get him to come forward. One thing about the Japanese is once they start coming forward, they stay coming forward. The Japanese will not go backwards, they will not back down. So that got Kawamura coming forward recklessly and made my take downs much easier to get. But people don’t know that. I mostly keep that to myself.
PRO MMA: Well, when you always finish fights quickly, people will then wonder if you can go the distance so now you have proved you definitely can.
KING MO: Yeah.
PRO MMA: Is there anything you think you could have done differently where maybe you could have gotten a submission?
KING MO: If my knee was better I think I could have. I just couldn’t move like I wanted to. My left leg was gone, it was just gone.
PRO MMA: Is that something that could require surgery? Has it been diagnosed?
KING MO: I’m getting an MRI done tomorrow.
PRO MMA: Who helped you most leading up to this fight? I know Dean Lister was with you a lot.
KING MO: Dean Lister, Benji Radach. I’ve been training a lot with my kicks. Kawamura has the same type of style as Benji except Benji has more power and is a strong fighter, so I trained with him a lot. But with my knee getting hurt a week before, I couldn’t work on my kicks anymore. My knee, it was hard for me to throw a knee cause I could barely lift up my leg. My warm up was a joke. I couldn’t warm up like I wanted to.
PRO MMA: How does Kawamura compare to other guys you have fought? Where does he rank?
KING MO: I don’t know. That’s a good question. The funny thing about me is now people are saying the guys I’m fighting are terrible or aren’t good enough but I’m 4-0. I have been training for like six months. I don’t know what the hell people want. Some people are just stupid you know what I’m sayin. It’s kind of like a high school football player and people want to see how they do against someone in the NFL. I’m still learning. I’m in no rush. I know for a fact I do good against a lot of fighters who are in the UFC in practice.
PRO MMA: So what’s next? Do you want to re-sign with Sengoku when this contract is up, do you want to stay in Japan, or are you ready to come to the U.S.?
KING MO: I still don’t know what I’m going to do yet cause with the U.S. it’s like, how many times can I fight in the U.S.? It’s cool but, even with the UFC, I could fight just two or three times a year.
PRO MMA: So you think you may want to stay in Japan and get some more experience in under your belt and get a lot more fights in over there?
KING MO: Well, I’m not sure yet. It’s up to my manager, Ryan Parsons, to decide really. I’m still new to the game. I’m still learning but I know I could beat a lot of people in the UFC. I know I could. I know. For a fact. As far as going to the UFC, I would go there to win a title and I think I still have a lot more to work on. I think I’m good enough to [go to the UFC] but I still have a lot to work on.
PRO MMA: If you end up in the UFC, what division would you like to fight in?
KING MO: I don’t know, 205 or heavyweight, 185. I like to fight bigger guys, you know what I’m sayin’?
PRO MMA: Could you see yourself against a Lesnar?
KING MO: I would love to fight Brock Lesnar, that would be cool.
PRO MMA: There would definitely be a size difference.
KING MO: Cause, you know, size difference means nothing. Size matters if you don’t have the skill to avoid it. I think more than anything what it comes down to is timing. Look at Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva. The new thing is TIMING. Everyone is pretty quick but if you can get some one’s timing down, then you’re always going to be on point. Add power and precision at the right time. That’s what Lyoto and even Rashad and those guys have. A lot of those top fighters you see, like Kenny Florian.
PRO MMA: If you ever do go to the UFC maybe your first fight could be in Japan since you will already have a fan base there, would you like that?
KING MO: You never know. I can’t really comment on that because my home is still with Sengoku, especially in Japan, for right now. It could be cool.
PRO MMA: What about bringing any of those queens home to the U.S., any of them wanting to come back with you?
KING MO: Nah, I got to keep it clean you know what I’m saying.
PRO MMA: Oh, you got to keep your Japan girls over there and your U.S. girls here huh? Keep them separate?
KING MO: Yeah, yeah.
PRO MMA: I guess you are looking for two more queens right?
KING MO: Yeah, we’ve got a contest for two more.
PRO MMA: What would you say to the Japanese girls out there if they want to become one of your queens?
KING MO: That’s a good question. I would tell them, make sure to bring your “A-game” because Sengoku will critique them and then it’s up to me to make the final decision. So, make sure you bring your “A-game!” There is competition.
PRO MMA: Over the past few weeks how many times did Dean Lister get hit in the nuts?
KING MO: Aww man, I think he’s got permanent callouses on his nuts now. Even Omigawa, Nakimura, Esther Lin, they all got him. It’s just a fun game we play to kill time.
PRO MMA: I wanted to ask you, what’s up with Jason Ellis when is he fighting again?
KING MO: I don’t know. Jason Ellis is a crazy ass dude.
PRO MMA: You’ve hooked up with all the crazy people in California now huh, Mayhem Miller, Jason Ellis…
KING MO: Yeah, I’m the sane one out of all them.
PRO MMA: Well, that’s about it man. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us at PRO MMA.
KING MO: Alright, see ya, no problem.
By: Jack Bratcher