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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal was released from his Strikeforce contract last week after referring to Nevada State Athletic Commissioner Pat Lundvall as a "racist bitch" on Twitter.
That response followed a disciplinary hearing for his steroid test failure in January. At the hearing, after an admission from Lawal's manager Mike Kogan that he filled out Lawal's pre-fight medical questionnaire, Lundvall asked Lawal whether he read and understood English, establishing that he should have known what he was signing.
Lawal took exception to that, and his response led UFC President Dana White to cut him from the Strikeforce roster. Lundvall appeared on HDNet's Inside MMA program on Monday night to address the Lawal hearing and the controversy that followed.
"I was not upset, and I never considered it to be derogatory," Lundvall explained of her line of questioning (transcribed by MMAMania.com). "What I was doing was laying the classic or standard foundation for the gentleman to make sure that he understood the form that he was signing, that it was designed to be a truthful statement and that the information he was supposed to put on the form was supposed to be true and correct."
"From my perspective, I've used that standard line of questioning for each and every athlete that has come before us, when their candor on their pre-fight questionnaire has been an issue. On occasion, we do have fighters that come before us, that have indicated their trainers or maybe someone who was with them at the time or a manager has filled out the form - that they don't read English, that they don't understand English, which maybe a second or a third language for them. What we try to do is to ensure that, if we're going to be taking that into account, that they do understand what it is that they're signing and that they have read it."
Lawal has since apologized publicly for the remark, though Lundvall wasn't made aware of that until her appearance last night. She was grateful for that, and added that she'd be open to a dialogue with Lawal on the subject.
"Well, number one: Mr. Lawal has not contacted me. But, if he did, I would take his call, and I very much would be happy to hear from him," she said. "To the extent that you have now informed me of something, I was not aware that he had expressed an apology. I'm thankful that he has, and I wish him the very best and was so happy also to learn in that you just reported that the staph infection in his knee has cleared up"
Penick's Analysis: The entire situation last week was not handled as well as it could have been. Lundvall wasn't wrong for her line of questioning; it was condescending, sure, but no different from the way she's handled hearings with previous fighters who have come up for disciplinary issues. That doesn't mean the lack of respect didn't warrant any type of reaction, but Lawal airing his grievances in the manner he did is the reason he lost his roster spot. The apology from Lawal was necessary, and he may get brought back if he keeps a level head about things and serves his suspension.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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