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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone out of his January 7 fight with Lorenz Larkin, making for the second opponent in a row for Larkin who has popped for steroids after their fights. Lawal's manager Mike Kogan spoke with USA Today this week, and claimed that neither he nor Lawal had even heard of drostanolone.
Kogan's claim is that Lawal had fluid drained from his knee in the lead up to the fight, and at the time got an injection of a "non-anabolic" steroid, but they contend that they do not know what this positive result was about.
For his part, Larkin doesn't hold any ill will toward Lawal, and is more than willing to let Lawal's appeals process play out before passing any judgment on the situation. Still, he does believe it's every athlete's responsibility to know what they - or anyone else - are putting in their bodies.
"I just looked at like, he's going to appeal it and the truth will come out one way or another," Larkin told MMATorch on Wednesday. "My whole thing is, we're professional athletes, and if that's what his explanation was it's his responsibility to know what's going into his body; especially being at this level. Something like a year suspension is really detrimental to a fighter; that's their only income. It's his responsibility to know what they're putting into his body; I would want to know."
Larkin was offered the fight with Lawal after posting three straight wins in Strikeforce in 2011, a streak that ran his undefeated record to 12-0. But the fight with the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion was a massive step up in competition compared to what he had gone against, and he was stopped in the second round for the first loss of his career. However, Larkin is a competitor, and he wasn't going to back down from a fight that Strikeforce presented to him.
"Yeah, it was the biggest leap that I've made in competition, but I'm all for it," he said. "I like fighting. To me, when opportunity comes, if I can take a challenge, I'm not scared of it. I think that's kind of what makes a fighter... It's something that I love to do. It's just better now because I'm able to get paid for it.
"I like competition, and if I had no competition than this is not the sport to be in. It kind of shows you where you're at. Obviously I'm proving something to be considered to be fighting [at that level]. The type of show that Strikeforce is, the type of show the UFC is, they're not going to put in [somebody] who really has no chance. It's not good for television, it's not good for the fans, it's not good for the promotion's name. So it shows a lot to me from where I came to be considered to fight one of these guys. It's all good to me; I don't mind losing, as long as I went out fighting, you know what I mean?"
Still, while he wasn't going to pass up the opportunity he was given in that fight, it certainly wasn't the fight he would have tried to go for after his 2011 campaign.
"Don't get me wrong; it was my decision, but if I was able to say 'I want to fight this guy,' then no, I'll admit in public, I wouldn't have picked 'Mo,'" Larkin said. "But the opportunity came to me, and I ultimately decided to take the fight and step up for the competition. If it was my decision, no, I wouldn't have jumped up; but with them coming to me and being considered to take the fight, I took the fight."
Outside of Lawal's failed drug test, their bout also had a bit of controversy regarding referee Kim Winslow, who was heavily criticized for allowing the fight to continue to long. But Larkin doesn't share that criticism, and doesn't think Winslow has gotten a fair shake for what he believes was a job well done.
"I'm so glad you brought it up because I've been hearing all about it," Larkin responded when asked about the controversy. "Hearing what 'Mo' was saying; I don't need to look at the video, I knew what was in it, and it's not a pride thing,but I was getting hit, and I wasn't knocked out. I've never been knocked out before, but I was getting flashes. He'd hit me, it'd flash, and I'd see him. I knew everything that was happening. I saw once his last punch came and she stopped it.
"He's just crazy talking; I've seen everything [from the fight], it was a good stoppage. If the tables were turned, we're taught so many times 'don't stop it until the ref stops it', if she wasn't stopping it I wouldn't have stopped. I don't put [anything] on her; she was giving me a chance. It would be different if I was knocked out unconscious and he was just beating on me. I was fully aware, I just couldn't defend myself at the time. I couldn't really do anything but I could see what was going on. It was a good stoppage to me; she gave me the best opportunity [she could have] to improve my position."
Now, while the MMA world will follow along with Lawal's saga with this steroid suspension, Larkin just wants to get back to work. He hopes to get back on track after what will remain the first loss in his mind, regardless of what the Commission does.
"I just want to get back," he said. "I'm already training again, so I just want to get back as soon as possible and get back on the streak again. Pretty much just bounce back. Just watch out for me; I'll be back as soon as they let me, and it'll be a good show for my next fight."
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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