Mo Lawal (Photo/Bellator)
Reports of Muhammed Lawal's retirement from MMA appear to have been premature.
The former amateur mat star known as "King Mo" in his eleven-year pro MMA career had announced his retirement earlier this spring after losing his third straight bout ... but is now coming back for one last fight, at Bellator 233 next month.
Lawal told ESPN's Ariel Helwani Thursday that he has signed to face Andrew Kapel in a 195-pound catchweight fight at Bellator 233 on Nov. 8 at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The Bellator organization later confirmed the fight had been signed.
Helwani described the just-announced Lawal-Kapel fight as serving as King Mo's official retirement bout.
"My last one," Lawal said. "My final one."
"I wanted to end in Bellator," he added.
It all appears to be a major reversal of decision for the former Oklahoma State All-American wrestler turned successful MMA star, who transitioned into a coaching role at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, one of the top MMA gyms in the world.
At the time of his retirement announcement a few months ago, Lawal had told MMAfighting.com, "I was like I'm getting old, I'm 38, I've got kids. I can't even run right now. I can't even jog really. I'm that bad. It's to the point where if I can't jog or sprint or be explosive, then I've got to stop."
Muhammed Lawal built a 21-9 record (with one no contest) in a pro MMA career going back to Sept. 2008. The former Oklahoma State wrestler built an impressive resume in MMA as former Strikeforce light-heavyweight (205-pound) champ, 2013 Bellator light-heavyweight tournament winner, and 2015 RIZIN heavyweight Grand Prix champion.
Now coming off three straight losses, Lawal will have one last appearance in the cage. He will face Kapel, 34, who has compiled a 14-6 overall record in a pro MMA career going back eleven years. Kapel, who has won his past four fights in a row, will be making his Bellator debut vs. Lawal at Bellator 233.
The Lawal-Kapel match will take place at the same event where Kyle Crutchmer will be making his debut in the Bellator promotion. The 26-year-old Crutchmer -- like Lawal, an NCAA All-American for Oklahoma State -- will bring a 4-0 pro MMA record to Bellator 233 in a welterweight (170-pound) bout vs. Antonio Jones.