Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal barely got his throne warm before Rafael 'Feijao" Cavalcante stormed his castle.
The "King" was only king for four months before he was forced to hand over his light-heavyweight championship belt following a disappointing August 2010 loss – the first of his career.
A knee surgery, a long layoff and a fight postponement later, and here we stand.
Lawal (7-1 MMA, 2-1 SF) begins his comeback by facing Roger Gracie (4-0 MMA, 2-0 SF) on the Showtime-televised main card of "Strikeforce Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov." The event takes place Sept. 10 at U. S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
The pair originally was supposed to fight on July 30, but Gracie withdrew from the event due to an injury.
Both men finally appear to have put their respective health issues to bed for the time being.
"It feels good, man," Lawal told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
). "It's been a year since I've fought, so I got no injuries, no more. It's all good."
Once he was cleared to train following rehabilitation, Lawal decided to embrace his inner nomad for a few months.
He traveled to Holland to train alongside former kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion Tyrone Spong. While in Las Vegas, he worked with Xtreme Couture coach Ray Sefo, sought out multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion Robert Drysdale, and studied the "sweet science" under the watchful eye of Floyd Mayweather Sr.
He finally settled in at American Kickboxing Academy for the meat and potatoes of his camp to prepare for Gracie.
All the planes, trains and automobiles necessary to seek out different training partners and coaches were well worth it, according to Lawal.
"It keeps your skill set fresh," he said. "You're constantly adding on, where some people stay in the same area and they don't really evolve. They stay stagnant. I'm always trying to look to improve."
The skills, techniques and philosophies he has incorporated along the way will serve him well both in this fight and beyond.
In a sport as fluid as MMA, continuous learning is a requisite for success.
Gracie is no different. He continues to show gainful improvements, most notably in the kickboxing department in his recent bouts.
"[His standup is] better than what I expected it to be," said Lawal, having seen tape on Gracie. "I thought it was going to be terrible. He came out throwing jabs and one-twos and teeps and some leg kicks. He's solid."
The general consensus, however, is that the fight will boil down to a specific battle within the war: whether or not Gracie can get the former Division I All-American and international-level wrestler Lawal to the mat in order to work his submission wizardry. If not, he'll be at a distinct disadvantage on the feet in terms of technique, speed and power.
Predictably, Lawal doesn't think Gracie will be able to do what's necessary to get him down.
"Maybe if I slip," Lawal said. "I don't know. I don't think so, but I can take him down. I'm not afraid of his jiu-jitsu at all. He has a great closed guard, but sometimes when you get hit, that guard opens up.
"I'm not worried about nothing. I'm just worried about making weight and getting to the fight. That's all."
With confidence bursting at the seams again, the loss to Cavalcante now seems to be nothing more than a distant memory for Lawal. The man has his swagger back.
"I know I'm going to win," he said. "I'm going to win the fight. I don't know if it's by stoppage or ground and pound, whatever. Hey, (maybe) even submission.
"Anything's possible, dog."