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‘King Mo’ stalks Strikeforce belt, bucks

With a victory Saturday, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal probably will earn another shot at regaining the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.

He says it would be nice to put the belt back around his waist, but not as nice as the financial rewards that come with it.

“The belt’s good to have, but the paycheck excites me more,” he said.

Lawal faces unbeaten prospect Lorenz Larkin on the Strikeforce card at the Hard Rock Hotel, and thinks he’ll bring an abrupt end to Larkin’s run.

“Yeah, he has some steam behind him, but steam goes away,” Lawal said. “I’m so excited for this fight. He’s a tough kid, undefeated. He’s hungry like me, but I’m starving. I’m an Ethiopian right now.”

Lawal, 30, was a decorated amateur wrestler before moving to mixed martial arts. The 2007 Pan-American Games and three-time USA senior freestyle champion won the Strikeforce title after starting his career 7-0. He lost the belt to Rafael Cavalcante in August 2010, but rebounded with a first-round knockout of Roger Gracie in September.

Despite his wrestling background, Lawal has six knockouts among his eight victories.

The card is headlined by a middleweight title fight between former UFC contender Keith Jardine and champion Luke Rockhold, Lawal’s teammate at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif.

The event airs live on Showtime (Cable 240) on a free preview weekend for the network, making it available in more than 60 million homes.

As part of Strikeforce’s new deal with Showtime, the four-fight preliminary card will air live on Showtime Extreme (Cable 243).

■ STICK TO FIGHTING — Political comedy shows have become popular, but Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Jacob Volkmann is learning that political jokes aren’t easy.

During his post-victory interview Saturday with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, a comedian by trade, Volkmann said President Barack Obama needed a “glassectomy.”

He explained the procedure thusly: “They remove the belly button and put a piece of glass in there so you can see what you’re doing while your head’s up your (expletive).”

Cue the crickets. Don’t expect Volkmann to write for “The Daily Show” anytime soon.

Volkmann, an outspoken critic of Obama’s health-care law, previously received a visit from the Secret Service when he said he wanted Obama to be his next opponent in the cage.

■ FEDOR WINS AGAIN — Since Fedor Emelianenko’s Strikeforce career ended with three consecutive losses, the heavyweight star won for the second time by scoring a quick knockout over Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii on the Dream New Year’s Eve show in Saitama, Japan.

Emelianenko, formerly considered the top fighter in the world, beat Jeff Monson in November to snap his losing streak. It was the seventh pro MMA fight for Ishii, who won gold in judo at the 2008 Games.

Both Dream champions in action at the event retained their titles with unanimous decisions. Shinya Aoki kept the lightweight belt by beating Satoru Kitaoka, and Hiroyuki Takaya retained the featherweight belt with a win over Takeshi Inoue.

Also, Bibiano Fernandes won two bouts to capture the Dream Bantamweight Grand Prix. He knocked out Antonio Banuelos in the first round of the championship match after both fighters won by decision in the semifinals. Fernandes won the Dream Featherweight Grand Prix in 2009.

■ UFC ON FUEL — The start of 2012 brought the official start of the UFC’s TV deal with Fox and several of its cable networks.

Fuel TV (Cable 319) marked the occasion with 24 straight hours of UFC programming on New Year’s Day.

The network will feature more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming this year, including live weigh-ins, preliminary bouts, pre- and post-fight coverage and more than 100 hours of live fights.

Fuel also will be the home of the new show “UFC Tonight,” which debuts at 7 tonight.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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