The time for talk is just about over. On Saturday, April 17th, Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee will be the site of the highly anticipated fight for the STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight title. Champion Gegard ?The Dream Catcher? Mousasi takes on undefeated and outspoken challenger ?King Mo? Lawal.
The fighters took time out of training to take part in a media conference on Tuesday, April 6th. To open the conference, STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker stated how excited he was to have these two athletes battle at this point in their careers. ?A lot of fighters say ?I don?t want to fight this guy or that guy, maybe later? but here are two guys in the prime of their careers and they weren?t afraid to fight each other, didn?t want to duck anybody and said let?s get it on?.
Coker continued ?From a fan perspective your going to get everything that mixed martial arts has to offer. ?You?re going to see some great striking, grappling, wrestling, ground and pound, throws and see mixed martial arts at its finest? said Coker before turning the conference over tot the fighters for their opening remarks.
Both fighters were given an opening comment to get the ball rolling. Reigning STRIKEFORCE Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi went first. ?Basically I?m in the best shape ever. I?m very confident and I will do every thing I can to win the fight? Mousasi explained. Light heavyweight title contender ?King Mo? Lawal went next. When questioned about his level of experience coming into a title match with just 6 fights under his belt, Lawal stated ?the number of fights I have really doesn?t matter. So whoever thinks Mousasi is going to win is wrong?.
The question was posed as to whether Lawal really just didn?t like Mousasi. ?King Mo? responded with ?He has no personality. I?m having fun man. I?m not saying he has bad character or (he) is a bad guy. He?s cool. He?s a great champ but why can?t we just have fun up until the fight. I?m having fun training. I?m having fun talking. I have fun fighting. It?s all for fun man. People make a big deal about this but it?s a sport. It?s fun for me. Why can?t we just do what we want to do and prove ourselves in the cage.?
And when questioned whether their opposing personalities and stylist approaches to fighting help sell the fight ?King Mo? offered ?Mousasi has the name. People know who he is. I?m not known just yet but I think that will change April 17th. I?m not worried about the fight. I just have to go out there and fight and the fight will sell itself? concluded ?King Mo?.
Lawal?s extensive background in wrestling is well documented. He?s a Division I all-American, NCAA National Collegiate Wrestling Champion and three-time U.S. Senior National Wrestling Champion among other honors. When questioned whether wrestling was the most important aspect of the fight Mousasi stated ?I can fight very well from my back. Obviously he has a better wrestling background?so he has the advantage there but this is MMA, not a wrestling fight.?. Lawal echoed his sentiments stating ?This is not a wrestling fight. I?m not worried about wrestling at all. This is a fight?.
Mousasi recently traveled to the U.S. to train with reigning UFC Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre among others and felt he had gained insight on how to put on weight effectively and improve his conditioning. ?My conditioning is better. Everything is better? he began. ?I improved a lot of aspect of my game. I will be at my strongest and my stamina is at its best ever. I worked on all of those things. Hopefully I can show it in the fight? stated the champion.
The conversation turned to ?King Mo? and what advantage he felt the champion held over him going into Mousasi?s first title defense. ?People don?t really know. He?s probably the smartest fighter in game? said Lawal. ?It?s not physical. It?s more mental. He?s a great thinker, great improviser. He finds ways to win. The most dangerous part about him is his brain? Lawal said with a laugh. ?Straight up. He?s real composed? he finished.
When the question was reversed, Mousasi was ready with Lawal?s high points. ?It?s his punching power, his wrestling, his athletics and physically, he probably very strong?I think his wrestling will help him in the fight. He?s undefeated so he?s confident. That?s also something that?s going to help him in the fight. (For me) it?s just another fight. I look at what advantages I have. So I?m ok.?
The question of Lawal?s experience was revisited but Mousasi held fast to his opinion stating ?I don?t look at records. A record doesn?t mean a lot in MMA. You can lose to a beginner?experience does give a little advantage but basically I?m not looking at records.?
Lawal was asked what part of his game was overlooked and he responded with ?All of it. They look at me and say ?He can punch hard? but I haven?t shown too much in fights because there?s not much to watch. I just go in and beat people. I think they like Mousasi more and they don?t know me. They will know me April 17th? he finished.
Neither of these athletes is used to going the distance. Mousasi has only heard the final bell 3 times in 31 fights while Lawal has only gone the distance 1 time. So the question was brought up; the longer the fight goes, who has the advantage? Mousasi answered first. ?I do not think this fight will go to a decision. I am finisher. He will look for the finish? he began. ?I think the important thing will be who has more will power and better stamina. That is going to decide this fight? stated the champion to close his point.
?King Mo? had a new style to unveil stating ?I don?t know where it (the fight) can go but I know I?m going to win. I have a new thing out there called ?The Cuban Style??. You can ask Rashad Evans about it and you can ask my camp about it. It?s gonna win. You will all see ?The Cuban Style? when it?s fight time. It?s a new style I put together and it?s pretty damn raw? he proclaimed.
Asked to elaborate on the style, he went on to say ?It?s a style the Cuban athletes use?from wrestling, boxing and judo. They have a very accomplished style that I put together for this fight. I?ve been a fan of the Cuban competitors for a long time?I studied their styles and put it all together in one package and it?s tight? said the light heavyweight title contender.
Though he made no mention of training with Cuban athletes to develop this style, Mo?s camp for this upcoming fight included many of the sports premiere fighters including STRIKEFORCE veteran Jason ?Mayhem? Miller (who will also compete on the April 17th fight card) and former STRIKEFORCE Light Heavyweight Champion Renato ?Babalu? Sobral.
Noting his durability as one of his advantages in the fight Mousasi proclaimed ?No one has ever grounded and pounded me. I know for sure I have a good chin and I?m not even thinking of getting knocked out ever so that is why I am thinking he cannot hurt me. And he is not a submission artist so I am very confident in this fight?. ?I?m comfortable fighting on my back but I?m not planning on fighting on my back? everything I do will be to work for the top position? he finished.
Asked his main advantage, Lawal said with a chuckle ?My advantage is he signed the contract and that?s all I?m going to say. I?m going to go out there and win the fight. Get ready for ?The Cuban Style?. I?m gonna bring ?The Cuban Style? and you all gonna like it?
It was time for a laugh as the conference came to a close. In the past Lawal has implied that Mousasi sounds like Sesame Street character ?Kermit the Frog?. One caller asked ?King Mo? to do his best impression. He obliged and had some choice words, finishing with ?Maybe I win by decision?. Mousasi would only reply with ?Let him have some fun?. Lawal encouraged Mousasi to retaliate stating ?do an impression of me?just let loose? but Mousasi stated it was not in his personality.
For better or worse, the two fighters could not be more different. It seems the time is right for this fight to take place. When two of the division?s most exciting athletes step up and no one blinks, you have the recipe for an all-time classic.