In MMA, Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal will be doing all the normal things a fighter does when trying to put his opponent away: punching, kicking and generally trying to inflict damage.
But when it comes to his burgeoning career as a pro wrestler in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, he plans to exercise restraint in the ring. That means chairs are for sitting and tables are for food.
"I'm not crazy," Lawal told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "At this time, I'm not seasoned enough. I'm a coward."
Lawal (8-1 MMA, 0-0 BFC), who meets Przemyslaw Mysiala (16-7 MMA, 0-0 BFC) tomorrow at Bellator 86, isn't used to saying that. But after participating in a monthlong pro wrestling training camp, he can admit that he doesn't yet have what it takes to reach the top.
One day, the former Strikeforce champ was asked to vault over the ropes and stick a landing. It was easily a 10-foot drop. Seven people tried it before him, and all of them got hurt. He flatly refused.
Another day, an instructor demonstrated a fall – on concrete. Lawal was shocked at how loudness of his body hitting the ground. It didn't take him long to realize he had a long way to go.
But while Lawal has had his share of injuries as a collegiate wrestler and MMA fighter, he isn't daunted by the prospect of fighting three times in three months in Bellator's Season 8 light heavyweight tournament. He used to wrestle multiple opponents in a single day.
"I'm not worried about the time," he said. "I know I'll be smart."
He is, however, worried about selling pain when he pro wrestles. He said MMA offers a measure of protection in the freedom to choose positions and attacks. When he's getting mock-punched or thrown to the mat, he is forced to take the blow as if it is real and contort his body in ways that almost ensure damage.
Compare the 54-year-old Dan Severn to a pro wrestler of similar age, he said, and you'll see which activity is more dangerous to life and limb.
So it's almost a relief to Lawal that fighting is his next endeavor. And despite his opponent's anonymity in the world of MMA, he's not worried about selling the match as credible.
"Just because no one knows who he is doesn't mean he's not tough," he said. "(Lyoto) Machida's first fight in the UFC was (Rameau Thierry) Sokodjou. No one knew who he was. No one knew who Mike Chandler was, and look at him. It doesn't matter who you are. It's what you're doing when people are watching you."
Tomorrow, both the MMA and wrestling world will be focused on the 32-year-old Lawal, who's one of Bellator's most notable free agent signings and a favorite to win the eight-man competition. It's been 12 months since he was issued a one-year suspension for failing a post-fight drug test in the now-defunct Strikeforce. His ability to bounce back will be under the microscope.
He's recently taken residence Las Vegas to train in his dual pursuits. To prove one is harder than the other, he offers MMAjunkie.com one week of training in MMA and one week of training in pro wrestling.
When informed he'd be out a partner in far shorter time, he said, "OK – maybe three days."