Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed Lawal is a college-educated man. He often speaks his mind and doesn’t mince words. He's also very aware of the language he uses to express his feelings.
So when Pat Lundvall, who is the first woman chairs of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, questioned his understanding to read or speak English during a hearing Tuesday, Lawal took offense.
Lawal believed the question did not serve any probative value during the commission's inquiry into his positive test for anabolic steroids after his Jan. 7 bout with Larenz Larkin.
The commission found Lawal guilty. He was hit with monetary fines, suspended for nine months and his victory over Larkin was changed to a no contest.
Lawal was disappointed by the ruling, but accepted it.
What he refused to accept was the question from Lundvall. Lawal believed it was intended to belittle him because of his race.
Lawal is black; Lundvall is white. Attempts by ESPN.com to speak with Lundvall were unsuccessful.
Insulted, Lawal took to Twitter to express his anger. He defined the question from Lundvall as “insulting, prejudice and a lil racist.”
It was on the social media website where he also called Lundvall a derogatory name directed at her gender.
Shortly thereafter, Lawal (8-1, with one no contest) was released from Strikeforce.
Lawal’s anger has not subsided, but he has had time to reflect on his response. And if he could do it over, Lawal would handle the situation differently.
“I wouldn’t have called her a b---- on Twitter,” Lawal told ESPN.com. “Maybe I should have waited until after the hearing, calmed down a little and approached her directly.”
Had Lawal taken that approach, he might still be on the Strikeforce roster. But the 31-year-old former All-American wrestler at the University of Oklahoma is not apologizing for standing up to what he believes was an insult directed at him. And while he is disappointed that Strikeforce decided to cut him, Lawal doesn’t harbor any bitterness toward the promotion.
“My feelings toward Strikeforce haven’t changed at all,” Lawal said. “They gave me my first chance.
“I’d like to fight under Zuffa [Strikeforce’s parent company] again, but they’ve released me and I can’t force them to take me back.”
But Lawal isn’t looking back. He will serve the nine-month suspension that NSAC handed him on Tuesday and begin preparing for life outside the Zuffa family.
“I have injuries, an infection and some healing up to do,” Lawal said. “After that I will get back to training and see what opens up.”