Muhammed Lawal doesn’t see Emanuel Newton winning again. | Will Fox/Sherdog.com
One spinning back fist changed the entire landscape of Bellator’s light heavyweight division this past February, when Emanuel Newton upset Muhammed Lawal in the Season 8 tournament semifinals.
With eight months and back-to-back victories now separating “King Mo” from the knockout loss, the former Strikeforce champion hopes to even the score this Saturday at Bellator 106. Lawal and Newton will now do battle over Bellator’s interim light heavyweight title live on Spike TV from Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif.
“Last time was a fluke, man. Straight up. Everybody knows it, and Emanuel is the one who is going to have to prove that it wasn’t. I’m going to show him what the real deal is, and that’s me on Nov. 2,” Lawal recently told Sherdog.com. “I knew that, in Bellator, if I kept on winning, we would eventually fight each other [again], so I wasn’t really worried, because I knew I was going to fight him.”
Lawal’s performances since his defeat to Newton have been dominating. The American Kickboxing Academy rep stopped Seth Petruzelli in just 95 seconds in June and then battered Jacob Noe for nearly 13 minutes to capture the Summer Series tournament crown.
“[In the Newton fight], I was real tense, because I was looking to kill. The [next two fights], I was more relaxed and focused. I made a note to myself to not get angry and [not to] go big on everything I do. I was trying to stay disciplined, that’s all,” said Lawal. “Noe had to fight, because he felt like I disrespected him. If there was no trash talk [before the fight], I think he probably would have stopped. I busted him up, and in the third round, I split him open. He couldn’t see anything, but I was still hitting him. I probably threw well over 200 strikes on the ground, just punches. I stayed busy and was always working.”
Like UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson, Lawal caught a curveball during his camp, when his boxing coach, Jeff Mayweather, was hospitalized last month. Mayweather is now out of the hospital and doing better, but his absence required Lawal to adjust his camp and work with Mayweather Boxing Club trainers Nate Vasquez and Otis Pimpleton. After some initial uncertainty, Lawal said he was able to regroup after learning that Mayweather was all right.
In four days, Lawal will be granted his rematch with Newton. While “King Mo” vows to produce a much different result than in their first meeting, the former Strikeforce champion was reserved when asked exactly how he would prevent a second “fluke” from derailing his run to the title.
“I’d rather show than say,” Lawal said. “It’s like this: tune in Nov. 2 and watch it for yourself. You’ll see.”