Today, the third annual Grapple at the Garden event takes place in New York at the famed Madison Square Garden. The event features wrestling bouts from grade school through collegiate levels and has the team event rematch of Team Joe Warren vs Team Renzo Gracie.
Among those on Joe Warren's team is Bellator light heavyweight star, King Mo Lawal. Bloody Elbow spoke with him recently ahead of the event to get his thoughts on going up against Rolles Gracie. It will be the second member of the Gracie family he's faced in competition. He also spoke about training with "Black Rob" Lawler, thoughts on the UFC lawsuit and why he left AKA.
Rolles is a great jiu-jitsu guy, but wrestling is like night and day compared to what he's used to. I commend him for even trying to wrestle, because you don't see too many jiu-jitsu guys willing to step out of their element like this. Most of the time, you see wrestlers trying to learn jiu-jitsu, going to Abu Dhabi and Metamoris, but you rarely see a black belt step into Greco-Roman or freestyle wrestling. He definitely has some nuts to be doing this, I'll give him that. That said, I'm still gonna smash him [laughs].
Leaving AKA for ATT
First off, I'm still very cool with Jav (Javier Mendez) and the whole AKA team. It's just that the Bay is not for me. I don't like the weather and it's a little too expensive. It gets cold up there. When I was there, I would have to drive 45 minutes after a practice to get to my strength training, then 45 minutes back. Almost two hours a day driving on top of training sessions is not what you wanna do.
Black Rob and ATT
Well the wrestling coach there was one of my coaches when I was trying out for the Olympic team, Kami Barzini, and I'm real close with him. I've known him since I was 19. I know a lot of the guys here.
I helped Robbie train for this last fight against Hendricks. We worked together and did some drills. He's tough. He's strong and he's very accurate with his strikes. I call him "Black Rob." He's from the black part of Iowa in Davenport, the Quad Cities and we know some of the same people from that region.
He also has rhythm...that boy has rhythm, you know what I'm saying? [Laughs] He's smooth, he's cool, he's laid back...he's a great athlete. He picks up stuff really fast, too. I would show him something and he had it down and would already be doing it the next day.
At first, I felt awkward because I know Johny and we're cool, but Robbie is my teammate, so I got over it. Whatever he needs from me, I've got him. Everything the coaches had him do...Coach Harris got him in strength training. Coach Katel was a beat up doll like I was. Coach Katel, man, he took a beating. A lot of these guys in there took beatings from Black Rob on a weekly basis.
Black Rob is real cool. He's got power, and he's dedicated. That dude is in the gym for hours and hours at a time, especially during camp. He was in there for at least 5 hours a day, if not more.
I think it's great and can help a lot of fighters. Some of the fans siding with the UFC are idiots. Why on earth would you get mad at fighters for wanting to make things better for other fighters? This isn't about how successful the UFC is. This is about the treatment of fighters. If they can help the fighters' quality of life better, it would ultimately make for better fights.
These guys are having to work extra jobs to put food on the table, having a hard time with a training camp because they can't afford to miss work. The fans should be behind the fighters more than the organization. If this was the NFL, people would be ‘The players need to get paid more.' In MMA, people are like, ‘Nate Quarry is just a disgruntled ex-employee.' These guys are out there bleeding for the fan's entertainment. They should be treated better.
You can catch Mo on today's PPV broadcast of Grapple at the Garden on GFL.TV