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After a yearlong layoff, Muhammed Lawal returns Jan. 24 to take on Przemyslaw Mysiala in the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 8 light heavyweight tournament.

“King Mo” joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show ahead of the matchup to discuss his opponent, the tournament format and more.

On whether he’s nervous making his debut in Bellator and on Spike TV: “No. I got more nervous with wrestling because with fighting, you’re getting paid. You’re getting paid to show up. In wrestling, you had to win the tournament. When I went to Russia and when I went to Iran, I had to win the tournament to get paid. I had to beat my opponent and beat the referees that were trying to cheat me. That was more stressful and that was more nerve-wracking to me.”

On whether it adds pressure that his opponent is not well known: “It’s like this: If I beat him, then I would get no credit anyway. If he beats me, then I’m a bum or the dude’s real good. To me, it’s just a fight. I’m not worried about names. Names mean nothing.”

On whether he’s ready for the tournament format and what could be a grueling year: “I think so. I went to Holland. I was there for a whole month. … My schedule was like this: I’d wake up at 5:30 in the morning, train from 7 a.m. to 11:30, come back at 6 and train till 8:30 p.m. I put myself through a month of hell. It’s not over. I’m in Vegas right now training with Jeff Mayweather, sparring with two-time Olympian Michael Hunter and rolling with Roy Nelson and sparring with Roy Nelson and boxing with other guys in the gym. I’m putting my body through hell to make sure I’m prepared.”

On how he’ll train knowing he could be fighting every four weeks: “You’ve got to be careful. You have to peak but not peak. For my fight, I’ll be in shape, but real talk: I won’t be in the best shape of my life. Even the second fight, I’ll be in a little better shape than the first fight. Third fight, I’m going to peak. I’ll be peaked in my third fight and then I’ll bring it down, wait a few weeks before I train again, bring it down and slowly ease back into it and peak again for the title fight. That’s how you’ve got to do it. It’s called periodization. I don’t think a lot of people in the fight game understand that, especially MMA.”

On whether the tournament format will affect how he approaches each fight: “No, because to me, I’ll go out there and knock you out. If I don’t knock you out, I’m going to go out there to beat you up. Regardless, my goal is to try to finish the fight. If it goes all three rounds and I’m a little bruised up, well, the ice bath will be my best friend for the next three or four weeks before my next fight.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 2:31:43).

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