It seemed like only a matter of time before Muhammed Lawal signed with Strikeforce, and he officially did so on Wednesday morning. Lawal, a former Division I All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University, is 5-0 in his young MMA career, recently defeating Mark Kerr in just 25 seconds in August.
FanHouse spoke to the newest member of the Strikeforce roster about when he will make his debut for the organization and why he would love to fight FedorEmelianenko and Gegard Mousasi right away. The full interview is below.
FanHouse: How did the deal come about?
Muhammed Lawal: We talked to everybody, but I guess their deal made the most sense, so I went with it.
FanHouse: How many fights are on the contract?
Lawal: Four fights, I believe.
FanHouse: But you can also fight in Japan, right?
FanHouse: Can you still fight for Sengoku, or do you have to fight for DREAM due to their alliance with Strikeforce?
FanHouse: Do you think you will fight for Strikeforce in 2009?
Lawal: I'm hoping. That's the plan, yeah.
FanHouse: Would you mind if your Strikeforce debut was on a Challengers show?
Lawal: I don't care. To me, it makes no difference. Fighting is fighting.
FanHouse: Have they offered you an opponent yet?
Lawal: Not yet.
FanHouse: Why aren't you fighting Kevin Randleman in Sengoku anymore?
Lawal: Man, I guess the negotiations fell through. I would have loved to fight him in Japan; I thought that would be a good fight. Negotiations fell through, and on top of that, I still have a little strengthening to do on my knee.
FanHouse: How is your health now?
Lawal: I feel good. I think December would be a good time to showcase my skills.
FanHouse: Do you think you are ready to fight Gegard Mousasi?
Lawal: Yeah, man. Here's the thing I don't get: Mousasi is a good fighter, but all of a sudden they make it sound like he's the God of MMA. Fans, they don't understand ... People try to say that Mousasi is light years ahead of me and this and that and he's going to knock me out. OK, please. I would love to see that happen. I think he's a great fighter, but by any means, I think I'm a great fighter too. What am I supposed to be afraid of him or something? People just jump on the bandwagon. People say, 'Mo's fought a bunch of over the hill nobodies.' Well, when I fought Travis Wiuff at the time, he wasn't a nobody. People were picking him to knock me out. People just thought that a wrestler vs. wrestler was a bad matchup for Mo. And then when I fought Fabio Silva, they were like, 'Oh, man, it's going to be a tough one. Fabio Silva's tough.' Well, I beat him up. Then I fought Yukiya Naito, and people were like, 'His submissions skills ... this and that.' I had no idea who he really was. I just knew he had a decent record. Then when I fought [Ryo] Kawamura, I beat him with one leg, you know what I am saying? ... You never know what's going to happen in MMA until the fight's over with. You can ask Wagnney Fabiano. Ask him. Against Mack "Da Menace" [Semerzier]. No one knew that Mack was going to go out there, besides Mack. Mack knew that he was going to win. There's no clear-cut favorite in MMA really.
FanHouse: All to say that you are down to fight Mousasi right away, correct?
Lawal: Yeah. What am I going to do? Turn it down because he's Mousasi?
FanHouse: Considering he's the top dog at 205 right now in Strikeforce, is that the fight that you want?
Lawal: To me, I'm the top dog. And you know who the top dog really is? The top dog is Fedor. That's the top dog all around. That's the person everybody wants to fight. Regardless if it's 205 or heavyweight. Fedor is the top dog. Mousasi is a good, young fighter, but Fedor is the top dog. I would love to fight Mousasi [and] I would love to fight Fedor. I just love to fight. It doesn't matter.
FanHouse: Are you going to be competing as a light heavyweight or heavyweight?
Lawal: Pssh. I'm going to fight both.
Lawal: Hell yeah. Why not? Let me tell you something: am I supposed to be afraid of Fedor? I'm not. Fedor is the best fighter; he's looked great. But the thing is, styles makes matchups. You know, Mark Hunt did great against Fedor because he has the style to do good against Fedor, you know what I'm saying? You can't do MMA math.
FanHouse: Is there someone you would like to fight first?
Lawal: No, not really. Me fighting Babalu ain't going to happen because me and Babalu are boys and we train together. Me fighting Fabricio Werdum probably ain't going to happen because he's my top wrestling student and I'm his up-and-coming jiu-jitsu student. There are fights that aren't going to happen. Even if I was in the UFC, me fighting my Team Thirsty member, Rashad Evans, probably isn't going to happen because he's Team Thirsty. Me fighting DanCormier will never happen. Those four fights will never happen. Everybody else? Throw them to me.
FanHouse: What exactly does Team Thirsty mean?
Lawal: Ok, let me ask you something: what are you thirsty for in life? What do you want in life? Everybody wants money, cars, clothes, h***, fame, riches, greatness, peace ... Things that make you feel good and things that make you happy is what everyone is thirsty for. You know what I'm saying? The enlightenment. That's what everybody is thirsty for. That's Team Thirsty. We're all people trying to pursue happiness and greatness.
FanHouse: I noticed you are also a member of Team GDP. What does that stand for?
Lawal: Team Thirsty is GDP. GDP means "Get Dat Paper." And one thing I like doing is getting that money. So when you hear people saying, 'Team Thirsty is GDP,' it's the same thing as saying, 'Team Thirsty is getting dat paper.' You feel me?
FanHouse: Oh, like Cryme Tyme?
Lawal: (Laughs) Yeah, like Cryme Tyme. Shad Gaspard that's my dog. That's my boy, man.
FanHouse: Speaking of pro wrestling, are we still going to see the elaborate entrances in Strikeforce?
Lawal: Man, c'mon. Hell yeah. Ain't nothing going change. The only thing that's going to change is I'm going to put it in their face more. It's time for me ... You know what? I'm sick and tired ... I've been trying to be diplomatic and be cool, but I guess if I have to be an [expletive], I'm going to be an [expletive], dog. I'm going to put it in people's faces and let them know what's up. I'm tired of people doubting me. I've been doubted my whole life. Now I'm sure I can prove the haters wrong. I've been proving them wrong my whole life and I'm going to. I'm just going to put it in their face. People are going to hate me, but they're going to love me as well. I'm going to make them love me by winning.
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