You see it on FOX, FX, Fuel, MTV2, Spike, ESPN, HDNet, and the list could go on. Mixed Martial Arts has exploded over the past few years – particularly in the past several months. While this increased exposure has brought more credibility to the sport, any potential to evolve is augmented under an even bigger mainstream microscope.
Fighters being suddenly dropped from the largest MMA promotions has always sparked heated discussion among hardcore fans, and Zuffa’s dismissal of Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal is no different. The now-former Strikeforce contender was booted from the Zuffa-owned promotion for his reaction to a hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, according to Scott Coker. Whether this was at the core of the decision to cut the popular fighter remains a mystery to those on the outside, the deed is done.
Keep in mind that Lawal was at this recent hearing for having the banned steroid Drostanolone in his system at the time of his fight with Lorenz Larkin and to formally receive the subsequent punishment that comes along with such a bust. That situation already presents thin ice to skate on; thin ice that the crowned and caped heavyweight stomped all over after he didn’t take kindly to questions from the NSAC.
Lawal took to Twitter (aka The Loaded Gun, per Jim Rome) and vented his frustrations with the NSAC by selecting some choice words to describe a panel which included the widely-disliked Pat Lundvall. This particular commission member has been criticized by the likes of BJ Penn and other athletes over the years, but Lawal now has the unfortunate (for him) distinction as the only fighter to be unemployed after expressing his dissatisfaction with the regulatory team in the “All For Our Country” state.
Zuffa rarely boots fighters for being caught with performance enhancing drugs in their systems (see: Leben, etc.), I mean heck, even THREE time convicted user Josh Barnett is back in the company’s folds. Yet in this instance, the firing was sudden, swift, and without much explanation; which further lends credit to Coker’s explanation that it was the post-meeting e-tirade which sent this situation over the edge. Some see this as a negative effect of less-than-transparent ownership, while others argue that the right thing is being done in a time when the world’s top MMA promotion needs to be at its best when it comes to preventing PED use and promotion a positive public image. With major fights airing in network television and vying for primetime spots with the likes of the NFL, MLB, and the NHL, the stakes have never been higher.