SAN JOSE, Calif., (Dec. 16, 2009) – Undefeated “King Mo” Lawal will make his STRIKEFORCE debut and only his second mixed martial arts MMA appearance in the United States when he meets two-time NAIA wrestling All-American “Iron” Mike Whitehead in one of five televised fights on SHOWTIME® on Saturday, Dec. 19, from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Lawal, a former three-time U.S. Senior National wrestling champion and former NCAA National collegiate wrestling champion (Central Oklahoma), recently signed a multi-fight agreement with STRIKEFORCE. He has been training in Southern California with fellow STRIKEFORCE competitors Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Benji Radach, and Fabricio Werdum, among others.
In his last fight, King Mo dusted aside MMA legend Mark Kerr in 25 seconds on Aug. 28. The charismatic, outspoken 28-year-old Lawal, whose public feud with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has been well-documented, is currently living in Temecula, Calif., by way of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
He recently answered Six Questions posed to him regarding his upcoming matchup.
QUESTION: What do you think about your Dec. 19 opponent Mike Whitehead?
KING MO: “I think Mike Whitehead is a good fighter. I’m not going to change anything or do anything differently. I just have to fight smart. We were both college wrestlers and have similar backgrounds. It should be a great fight.”
QUESTION: You’re training with some incredible fighters in Orange County. How has that helped you and have they given you any advice?
KING MO: “It’s been great. You got guys like Dan Cormier, Benji Radach and “Mayhem” Miller. There’s just a lot of guys and a lot of them have experience fighting for STRIKEFORCE. I haven’t really asked for advice because everyone is different. I’ve fought in a lot of big venues myself and under a lot of stressful situations and a lot of places that were just overwhelming. I’ve wrestled in Iran and in Russia and fought in Budapest. I’ve seen it all as far as people rooting against me. So I think I have a lot to teach those guys, as well.”
QUESTION: “What about fighting in Tokyo. Did you enjoy that experience?
KING MO: “I loved fighting over there. The food, the people, and just experiencing a different culture. But I’m happy to be back and fighting in the States. This will be my second fight here (he knocked out Mark Kerr in Kansas City in August).”
QUESTION: You have expressed interest in fighting heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. Do you think you’ll get a shot at him?
KING MO: “Well, we both have fights on the horizon that we have to take care of first. He’ll have his hands full against guys like Fabricio (Werdum) and (Alistair) Overeem. I know I have to keep winning and so does he. He’s not fighting very often so I don’t know. It’s up to STRIKEFORCE at this point.”
QUESTION: What are you like outside the cage when you’re not fighting?
KING MO: “I’m pretty boring. I don’t anything too exciting. I like to just chill and listen to music. I actually like to watch boxing on TV.”
QUESTION: Who are some of your favorite fighters?
KING MO: “I like Paul Williams, (Floyd) Mayweather, and (Manny) Pacquiao. I like to watch old tapes of (Muhammad) Ali, (Larry) Holmes. I like (Kelly) Pavlik and the Klitschko brothers. I like them all. And the SHOWTIME tournament with the Super Six has been great. I watched the (Andre) Ward-(Mikkel) Kessler fight. Like I said, I like it all.”
Tickets for Dec. 19, priced from $30, are on sale at the HP Pavilion ticket office as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’S official website (www.strikeforce.com).
In the main event, undefeated former STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight (185 pounds) Champion Cung Le (6-0) will square off with hard-hitting Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (17-6). STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) will battle Interim Lightweight Champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (16-2) in a long-awaited rematch to determine the undisputed king of STRIKEFORCE’s 155 pound division. Former United States Olympic wrestling silver medalist Matt “The Law” Lindland (21-6) will face off with submission expert “Jacare” Souza (10-2).
Doors at HP Pavilion will open at 5 p.m. PT for the STRIKEFORCE: “Evolution” event presented by Rockstar Energy Drink and the first preliminary bout will begin at 6:00 PM, PT.
The live SHOWTIME telecast will begin at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).