Muhammed Lawal’s career and legacy are in a very difficult place. With his upcoming bout against Joe Vedepo at Bellator 131, the former Strikeforce champion has his chance to gain his sixth win in the Bellator MMA cage since joining the promotion…
Muhammed Lawal’s career and legacy are in a very difficult place. With his upcoming bout against Joe Vedepo at Bellator 131, the former Strikeforce champion has his chance to gain his sixth win in the Bellator MMA cage since joining the promotion in 2013. However, his legacy as an important name in mixed martial arts continues to be damaged because he is fighting what many would consider “lesser” opponents.
Outside of the fight with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 120, years have passed since Lawal has faced a ranked opponent. In fact, many would argue that “Rampage” is well beyond his prime and wasn’t a considerable threat at light heavyweight at the time of their fight. In an individual sport such as MMA, the value of Lawal’s overall legacy will be determined by the strength of whom he’s faced. At this point in time it would be tough to consider “King Mo” one of the best to compete at the 205-pound weight limit.
Yet, one must wonder if he should even care. Mixed martial arts is a sport based on prize-fighting—where athletes are competing for the chance to make the most money possible during their short time in action. Lawal understands this point and intends to make the most of it. He made his point in an August conversation with Sherdog.
“This was one of the easiest decisions I could have made,” Lawal said in reference to signing a long-term deal with Bellator once Scott Coker replaced Bjorn Rebney as president of the promotion. “This is where I want to be. I don’t care who I fight, when it is, or where it is. I get paid to fight, and that’s what I’m going to do for Bellator. That’s it.”
If this is the mentality that “King Mo” is taking for his MMA career, he should not feel threatened with the idea that his legacy is being hurt because of the men he is fighting. As long as he continues winning and earning paychecks then his job is done. But what will current fans and those of the future say about Lawal in comparison to his peers? That is where this conversation becomes interesting.
One constant in sports is that major athletes and their career accolades tend to be lowered as time passes. At one point they may be considered the greatest to ever play their sport. Years later more advanced athletes may recreate or surpass those same feats which will overshadow what was done in the past. This has occurred in mixed martial arts as the accolades of men such as Jon Jones and Georges St. Pierre continue to surpass early champions like Tito Ortiz and Frank Shamrock.
The same is going to happen to “King Mo” Lawal. At 13-4, Lawal has experienced much more success than failure in his six-year professional career. Unfortunately, many will question the value of that success based on the names he has competed against. While there are different levels of ability in MMA, the fact remains that fighters can fall at any moment in time. MMA Oddsbreakers was one of the many outlets that expected Lawal to defeat Emanuel Newton in their first meeting at Bellator 90, but that still stands as one of the best highlight-reel knockouts of 2013 (via MMA Mania).
Combat sports are a tough realm to judge a fighter against his peers. Fighters can only defeat the men and women that are placed in front of them. Muhammed Lawal has done that for the majority of his career, which means he is successful as a prize fighter. While he may not receive the praise that comes to others, as long as he continues to win then he should consider his career a success.
Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com