King Mo Signs Unprecented Deal With Spike TV’s Bellator & TNA Wrestling
May 10, 2012
Former Strikeforce Light Heavy Weight Champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal announced today that he has signed a first-of-its-kind deal to simultaneously compete for Spike TV properties Bellator Fighting Championship (MMA) & TNA (Professioinal Wrestling).
In an unprecedented move, one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, “King Mo” Lawal, has signed a deal to compete in Spike TV’s two major sports properties, Bellator Fighting Championships and TNA’s IMPACT Wrestling. “King Mo” will join the stars of TNA this summer and resume his mixed martial arts career next year when Bellator Fighting Championships moves to Spike TV from its current television home, MTV2. The deal was jointly announced today by Kevin Kay, President, Spike TV along with Bjorn Rebney, Chairman & CEO, Bellator Fighting Championships and Dixie Carter, President, TNA Entertainment.
“‘King Mo’ is an incredible athlete and a great addition to the Bellator family. He immediately adds prominence and star-power to our light heavyweight division,” said Rebney.
“‘King Mo’ is the perfect athlete for this type of alliance. He is the real deal in MMA, and his bold personality and world class wrestling accomplishments are unparalleled. I’m confident he will have a major impact in both sports,” stated Carter.
Lawal (10-1-1) launched his mixed martial arts career in 2008, and after four straight wins, he faced off against his toughest challenge, renowned fighter Mark Kerr. “King Mo” knocked out Kerr in the first round, and eight months later he defeated Gegard Mousasi in a Light Heavyweight world title fight. Lawal also holds an impressive KO victory against multiple Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championship winner Roger Gracie in September 2011.
“This deal is a dream come true for me,” Lawal said. “Bjorn and Dixie have given me the opportunity to engage in my two great loves, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling, at the same time. And, to have it all on Spike TV is really buttercream icing on a big ol’ cake – not that whipped cream stuff either!”
Lawal rose to grappling acclaim as a NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University in 2003 and a three-time U.S. National Champion (2005, 2006, and 2008) in the 84 kilogram division. In 2007, as a member of the US National team, he brought home a gold medal at the Pan American Games and a silver medal at the World Cup.
A native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., Lawal lives in San Jose, Calif. and trains with the prominent American Kickboxing Academy.
There aren’t too many options for MMA fighters nowadays since Zuffa purchased Strikeforce last year. King Mo was one of those fighters that benefited from Strikeforce’s existence back when he was fighting for Sengoku in Japan and as a free agent, signed a flexible and favorable contract with the San Jose based promotion despite being courted by multiple promotions.
This time around, King Mo – who has had previous interest and has actually tried out for Professional Wrestling years ago – signs a simultaneous deal to compete for both Bellator and TNA. This is Spike TV’s pocket Aces, giving professional fighters another option to make a living within MMA in the sports and entertainment industry. Some who are purist MMA fans may cringe at the idea of MMA fighters also dabbling in Pro Wrestling, but this has been a constant in MMA for quite some time. From Dan Severn, to many Japanese fighters, to Josh Barnett, Pro Wrestling and MMA have gone hand-in-hand for quite some time. Plus, let’s not forget the UFC’s biggest PPV draw Brock Lesnar – who is now back with WWE – and Ken Shamrock who spiked up everyone’s interest in MMA when he signed with the UFC after competing in WWE.
The history has always been there and it has been a black eye to many that have wanted the sport to be legitimized by mainstream, but we are seeing something new here. Something innovative, if you want to call it. Spike TV is using both of their properties to not only cross-promote, but to embellish the partnership as an alliance and expand their audience. To not only grow Bellator and TNA as individual entities as a union, but to anchor the M18-34 flag on the Spike TV network. It’s innovative, it’s controversial, and its getting people’s attention. Its exactly what Spike TV want’s to do as it continues it’s preparations for the transfer of Bellator from MTV to Spike TV in 2013.
This is a great move for all parties. Despite what MMA purists think about the move, TNA receives higher ratings (1.4 million viewer average) on Spike TV than TUF Live. This will help Lawal financially and as a brand. He’ll be unique and definitely receive some good storylines for the show. For TNA, it elevates its appeal as it tries to move on from the Hulk Hogans and Ric Flairs to a new generation of wrestlers. The pro wrestling company has been asked to retool its product by Spike TV and this is a step in that direction. It also helps that it is moving up in time slots on Thursday nights to avoid competition. As has been rumored, this could lead to Bellator moving to Thursday nights with TNA as a lead-in.
For Bellator, the addition of Lawal should bolster the brand when it makes its long awaited debut on Spike TV. The twittershpere is now speculating whether Rampage Jackson could jump to Bellator as well to create a Lawal-Rampage shootfight. It will be interesting to see whether we will see if Spike TV/Bellator/TNA adopts this strategy of signing fighters to do both (e.g. Josh Barnett).