At one point and time, Bellator light-heavyweight Emanuel Newton had lost three fights in a row and was for all intents and purposes adrift on the MMA sea.
Refusing to give up, Newton has built himself up over the last couple of years to become one of the top 205-pound fighters in the world, capped off by a 2013 that saw him win all four of his fights and become the interim Bellator champion. In the process, he also earned a shot at Bellator light-heavyweight champion Attila Vegh on Friday night.
“I would have been happier if I would have had more finishes, but it wasn’t in the cards, so I’m going to be looking for more finishes this year,” said Newton. “Last year allowed me to do what I needed to do to stay on top; train more, stay healthy and just keep getting better at everything I do.
“I’ve been fighting since 2002, so this is a long time coming. I feel now is my time. I’m at the pinnacle of my career where everything is falling in place, things are working out and I’m ready to go.”
Looking ahead to this Friday’s fight against Vegh (29-4-2) in Mulvane, Kan., Newton (22-7-1) isn’t going into this rematch of their 2012 fight with anger over his previous loss, but with optimism in the chance to prove himself the better fighter once and for all.
“Vengeance is the Lord’s, not mine, so I have no vengeance in my heart,” said Newton.
“I definitely want to prove a point and show I am the better fighter – even though when we first fought I believe I won – I just want go in there and show people that I’m a new fighter, a better fighter, and that I’m going to become the champion.”
Not only does he expect the outcome to be different this time, Newton isn’t expecting the same fight from himself or Vegh this time around.
“I’m a completely and different fighter, like night and day, compared to when I last fought (Vegh),” said Newton. “I have different trainers; I’ve changed my game, changed my diet, and changed the way I think and train.
“I’m sure he’s changed a lot of things because as fighters, we’re constantly adding new things. I’m sure he’s been working a lot of things to counteract me and stop me from being victorious, but it’s not going to happen.”
Even if Newton claims the unified Bellator light-heavyweight championship on Friday, he still feels a need for accomplishment, especially outside the cage.
“I always want to keep grinding because there are different mountains, not just in fighting but in business and helping out the world,” he said. “I want to be successful to not only help myself, but my friends and family and the world.
“I want to travel and help the people of other countries and help make this world a better place and get rid of some of this dark energy that dwells every place.”