Spike and Viacom continue to prep for their big move into MMA with Bellator, and they’ve just recruited King Mo Lawal into their ranks with a very peculiar deal: Mo will not only fight in the next light heavyweight tournament, he will also wrestle for Spike’s wrestling org, Total Nonstop Action Extreme Impact Whatever Wrestling.
Rebney said that he and Carter have spoken for over a year about the possibility of recruiting an athlete capable of crossing both worlds, and that when Lawal came free, they both knew he was the one.
“For concern for the credibility of what we do as a brand at Bellator and how it needed to work, we needed to find someone who was a very, very special fit,” he said. “We needed to find someone who completely fit within this realm.”
“It just made so much sense,” Kay added. “One of the greatest mixed martial arts fighters in the business and he has so much charm, charisma and personality. When Dixie and Bjorn brought it to me, I was like, ‘Yes, go for it. Let’s do it. Let’s figure this out. Let’s everybody get on the phone, get out there, do whatever we have to do and make a deal with Mo and get him with both organizations.'”
The lengths of the respective deals were not disclosed, but Lawal said it was long enough that he’d “probably have some gray hairs by the time it’s done.”
According to sources, Zuffa — which released Lawal on March 27 — had matching rights, but either could not or would not exercise them.
Phone calls from TNA stars Hulk Hogan and Sting, as well as executives from Spike and Bellator, helped convince him of the move.
“I want to go where I’m wanted,” he said.
The UFC sounded surprisingly receptive to bringing Mo back under the Zuffa umbrella considering the whole steroids / bitch combo that drummed him out of Strikeforce. But there’s a pretty big difference between having a promotion that’s willing to give you a second chance and a media conglomerate that’s willing to bend over backwards to position you as one of the stars of both it’s MMA and wrasslin brands.
It will be very interesting to see how all of this turns out. For all it’s scouting magic, Bellator is a bit of a zero sum game where everyone but the eventual tournament winner ends up ‘losing’, and even the winner ends up in a strange championship limbo. I’ve never watched a second of TNA wrestling, but considering all the staff crossover from the WWE, I have to imagine a lot of the poisonous politics are similar. Promises of big pushes and star treatment could quickly devolve into jobbing situations where Mo has to let Vader sit on his face.