Photo by: Esther Lin/Strikeforce - King Mo knocks out his fifth opponent.

Scarcely has there ever been a fighter so young in the sport take so much criticism as Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. Whether it be his outspoken personality, his confidence (some say arrogance), or his flashy style, for some reason, the former NCAA national collegiate wrestling champion has an uncanny ability to polarize people.

Mo has consistently faced and beaten whoever the promotions have put in front of him without complaint. It seems people forget that fighters are not matchmakers. If certain critics had their way Mo would have fought Gegard Mousasi in his second or third fight.

Now think about that just for a second… even if the matchmakers wanted to make that fight, do you think Mousasi or his manager, at this stage of his career, would want him facing some new guy with only three fights? Sure it could make Mo a star overnight if he won, but it would ruin Mousasi if he lost.

For a man who had zero amateur MMA bouts, and took his first professional fight against Travis Wiuff (57-13) after ONE MONTH of MMA training, Muhammed Lawal has done pretty damn well for himself.

Have any of his fights been against top ten opponents? No. And for the same reasons stated earlier; if you are the manager of a top ten fighter, why would you match your guy up with a virtually unknown fighter with only one, two, or three fights?

Mo has consistently stated he will fight anyone, but if the matchmaker and other fighters’ manager won’t make the fight, how is it supposed to happen? It is a bit funny, we don’t see people standing in line to fight Mo. We don’t hear too many people calling him out do we?

On Mo’s little over one year journey to earning a 6-0 record (same record Cung Le had going up against Scott Smith on Saturday), each new opponent was supposed to be “THE” person that would be his “biggest test” or the guy to “expose him” – Then after Mo knocks them out, suddenly the guy was a bum.

Just as an experiment, several comments have been collected from various MMA sites when the fight between King Mo and Mike Whitehead was first announced:

  • Yeah, Whitehead is a good fighter with TONS of experience. Definitely a BIG challenge for King MO.
  • Wow…Mo’s first loss? – Whitehead ain’t a slouch and his refocused training has thus far made him look REALLY good. Even in his loss to Babalu he looked great standing. Then again, Babalu tends to invoke the best in his opponents when he trades. Still…Mo ain’t ready. Whitehead by decision.
  • This should be a good test for the “King”.
  • whitehead could re-establish himself with a win here.
  • should be his toughest fight yet
  • This is pretty stern test for Queen Mo. Whitehead is no joke, and as long as he doesn’t freeze up like in the past, he will giving Queen all he can handle. Nice matchup!! If Queen can finish Mike in spectacular fashion it will be clear he is a force. I’ll be there live and I can’t wait!

Now let’s take a look at several comments from the same places after Mo sent Whitehead on a first class astral trip Saturday night:

  • Time to step up Mo and fight some real comp.
  • I agree, that stuff won’t fly when he actually fights someone good. He’s quick though.
  • Awesome fight. King Mo lived up to the hype. Let him fight someone good now.
  • This guy needs a real fight now.
  • I’m not impressed…yet. – I won’t even go into who he’s fought since he’s still new to MMA, BUT just watching him in the cage, his stance, his technique, etc, its still not there yet.
  • What rubbed me the wrong way even more is when he thought he was Rampage talking about the “money”
  • He is the best of the not so good guys
  • He hasnt fought anyone! No idea how good he is yet! He needs to fight Sokoudjou next!
  • “I fight at moneyweight” – What a douch. Can’t wait till this dude gets KTFO.
  • In the very least, I want Mo to fight a top tier fighter and have the rest of his game exposed. There is always a chance that he turns out to be a well rounded, full fledged mixed martial artist, but I’m a little suspicious. He’s been pretty spoon fed so far.
  • I’m not saying King Mo is a bad fighter, I’m saying he hasn’t fought anyone that should grant him the hype he is receiving.

Now there are plenty of fans who do support King Mo. It just seems the critics are very outspoken about their dislike of him. Maybe it is because of the Brock Lesnar effect – how Brock came right into the UFC, fought Frank Mir, then got a title shot shortly thereafter, and became the champ.

If you remember though, most people thought Brock did not deserve the title shot and could not believe someone with such little experience was even given the opportunity to prove himself against the top guys.

Although they were both high level collegiate wrestlers, one big difference between King Mo and Brock was Brock had a huge name prior to coming to the UFC built from his time in the WWE, so as a matchmaker, it made good business sense to put him on a pay-per-view against another big name.

Comparatively speaking, as a matchmaker, and as the manager of a potential opponent, it has not made sense up to this point to match Mo against a top ten level fighter yet. Of course, it may have made perfect sense for Mo’s career, but not for the promotion or his opponent.

Don’t worry though, Mo’s stock just went through the roof Saturday night.

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