King Mo ousted by Zuffa

March 28, 2012

Tuesday was a bad day for “King” Mo Lawal as he was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission 9 months and fined $39,000 for using Performance Enhancing Drugs. To compound the suspension, Lawal took to twitter to vent which lead to Zuffa cutting Lawal.

As you may recall, Lawal tested positive for PEDs after his last fight in Strikeforce in January.  The hearing before the Nevada State Athletic took place on Tuesday and it didn’t go well. Lawal was fined a total of $39,000 and suspended 9 months by the NSAC.  Also, his KO of Lorenz Larkin was ruled a No Contest.

MMA Fighting reports that Strikeforce’s Scott Coker stated that the release was based upon the “subsequent reaction” by Lawal.  This is in reference to Lawal’s twitter rant after the hearing.  The tweets railed against a female member of the NSAC questioning Lawal as she asked if he could read and if he spoke English. Lawal took offense and some of his tweets reflected his disdain.  As a result, Zuffa notified Lawal’s management that the fighter had been let go.

With Lawal’s termination came the uproar as to the lack of symmetry in doling out punishments by Zuffa.  But there is a code of conduct in fighters’ contracts.

MMA Junkie provides the section in a Zuffa fighter’s contract regarding code of conduct:

Section 9.1 of the Zuffa (or Forza, LLC for Strikeforce fighters) contract states:

“Fighter shall conduct himself in accordance with commonly accepted standards of decency, social conventions and morals, and Fighter will not commit any act or become involved in any situation or occurrence or make any statement which will reflect negatively upon or bring disrepute, contempt, scandal, ridicule, or disdain to Fighter, the Identity of Fighter or any of Fighter’s Affiliates, FORZA or any of its officers, managers, members, employees, or agents.

“Fighter’s conduct shall not be such as to shock, insult or offend the public or any organized group therein, or reflect unfavorably upon any current or proposed sponsor or such sponsor’s advertising agency, or any network or station over which a Bout is to be broadcast.”

Payout Perspective:

The termination issue here is based on Lawal’s tweets, something that has gotten UFC fighters in trouble in the past.  Recent memory will point us to Miguel Torres and his brief expulsion due to an off color tweet.  Also, Torres was taken back into the good graces of Zuffa less than a month after he was terminated. But Forrest Griffin had a controversial tweet about rape and was not punished.  Rashad Griffin made a topical, yet off-color remark about Phil Davis’ alma mater, Penn State in promoting their fight and was not punished either.

As for the reason for the tweets, it’s certainly understandable for Lawal to be upset for the line of questioning about whether he could read and/or speak English. As an attorney that’s actually been in situations like this, feelings are hurt and it’s unfortunate that this happens in the profession.  After listening to the audio, it seems like Pat Lundvall was asking a line of questioning which would segue into further questioning.  Definitely, she could have asked different questions to get to the same point.  But, it appears that she may have been upset with the fact that Lawal did not actually fill out the questionnaire which she questioned Lawal about preceding the read and speak questions.  Honestly, I’m not even sure if she realized that the questions were condescending.  But that’s only speculation.

The termination gives cause to pause about whether there should be a need to inform Zuffa fighters about its twitter policy (maybe implement one if one does not exist).  Zuffa could amend its code of conduct to specifically include social media use to spell it out to its fighters too.  For a tool it wishes, and in fact awards, its fighters for using, there needs to be some ground rules.  While it doesn’t want to restrict tweeting, fighters need to be smart about what they are tweeting.  Lawal has been through a difficult time and the tweets reflect his frustration.  But, he should have self-imposed a cooling period.  Stay off of twitter for a day so your tweets don’t get you into trouble. It’s one of the reasons why the media is not let into locker rooms immediately after a football/basketball game.  Players need to calm down lest they say something they regret.

In the end, Lawal may still have a chance to comeback to Zuffa.  If he shows contrition for his tweets and accepts the suspension, Lawal still may land back in Strikeforce or even the UFC. One need only look to Miguel Torres.  You could even point to Nate Marquardt as a fighter exiled by the company only to return.

7 Responses to “King Mo ousted by Zuffa”

  1. Diego on March 29th, 2012 6:39 AM

    Stay away from twitter people. I keep saying it, but no one seems to be listening. Any technological advance that allows you to broadcast to a world-wide audience with such speed that editing becomes an afterthought is not an advance in my book.

    What’s next, people walking around with holographic thought bubbles generated by a portable mind reading device? Which are then automatically updated as a Facebook status?

  2. Machiel Van on March 29th, 2012 8:25 AM

    I agree. These athletes should know better by now; the precedents are out there.

    This does have the nice side-effect of getting Mo out of his Strikeforce contract. If he comes back from his suspension and wins a couple fights, he could be signed to the UFC. That wasn’t possible before under the new SF contract with Showtime.

  3. rushfit on March 29th, 2012 10:03 AM

    The only people these athlete are hurting are their fans. With the internet today, word can travel faster than ever. Just like Diego said people shouldn’t be venting on twitter or any mass media outlet.

  4. BrainSmasher on March 29th, 2012 7:00 PM

    Suspention deserved imo. I am sick and tired of selfish little cry babies who take no responsibility for their actions throwing the race card out every time they dont get their way. Anyone who thinks the commision member was being racist needs to go watch hoy the House of representitives talked to Roger Clemens. King Mo was playing dumb with the commission. He thought he could not list his meds on his prefight papers then use it for an excuse for a failed test. Then pretend you dont understand what you are doing. When you play dumb like that of course they will be condesending and talk down to you. It has nothing to do with race. He was being a moron so she treated him like one.

  5. Bruce on March 29th, 2012 8:09 PM

    Notoriety is a burden.

  6. Blade on March 30th, 2012 5:33 AM

    I’m willing to bet good money he was released much in the same way Overeem was released by Strikeforce. To get out of his Strikeforce contract! I believe he will sign with UFC by the end of 2012.

    It really is a great loophole to get the “big boys” of Strikeforce out of their contract. Should we start a betting pool as to when Melendez will say remarks “off the cuff” on Twitter and released from Strikeforce?

  7. BrainSmasher on March 30th, 2012 4:11 PM

    Blade i think you could be on to something. I dont think it would really be the case when Zuffa signed with Showtime. I dont believe they would do something like this. But Dana was recently pissed at how SF refused to listen to him. He said he was taking himself out of the SF decision makings. Well he seems to have been very hands on in this case. So i wouldnt be suprised if he has decided “to hell with Showtime we are done with them after this contract anyway. So i will use that loophole”.

    Mo deserved what he got. But it was one of those things that you can understand either way released or not released. You we dont know for sure. Another option is they released him to get out of his huge contract. There are a lot of SF guys who have big contracts from the old management. They assumed SF was getting big and it never happened and they got stuck with huge contracts and a crappy tv deal. Wouldtn be suprised at all of SF resigns him to a smaller contract.

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