Newton, who was a +700 underdog, defeated Lawal with a spinning back-fist knockout in their first meeting and in the process scored one of the most shocking upsets of the year.
“Come on, man, let’s be real. When I land a punch, I know it’s over. I’m looking where I’m throwing,” recalled Lawal to MMAWeekly.com back in July before his fight with Jacob Noe at Bellator 97. “I don’t throw it to hope it lands, or this or that; I’m throwing it to land and for it to land solid. I’m watching everything I throw. He had that spinning back-fist and he got lucky with it. When we fight again, it will be a different story, trust me. I know it will.”
That comment earned Lawal some rigid responses from readers. Many thought that the 32-year-old was making excuses, and viewed the comments as deflecting and disrespectful towards Newton and his efforts.
With his Nov. 2rematch with Newton at Bellator 106 drawing near, Lawal is standing by his “lucky” comments. And criticism be damned, Lawal isn’t really that interested in hearing what the inexperienced masses think about his comments.
“I don’t go to that many websites. For what? So I can go read a bunch of stuff from fans who don’t know (expletive)?” said Lawal when asked if the criticism from fans about his “lucky” comment bothered him.
“What are they gonna tell me about fighting? How can a (expletive) tell me about my jab when he’s never thrown a jab before?
“Let’s be real. That’s like me saying, ‘Hey, you’re frying that chicken wrong,’ when I ain’t ever fried a chicken in my life. Or, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be cooking ribs that way,’ when I’ve never cooked ribs before. Or what about a pool? ‘That pool needs chlorine,’ when I have no idea what I’m talking about.”
Lawal has a message for critics (words that I’m not about to reprint here), and tells me to leave them a little reply in the MMAWeekly.com comment sections.
He says to tell them “that’s from King Mo.”
“They live on the internet,” he continues. “I have a life. I got family. I got friends. I got places to go. I don’t spend time lollygagging and posting on message boards. I’m better than that.”
Lollygagging aside, the upcoming showdown with Newton has been a match that MMA fans have been waiting for since their inaugural meeting back in February.
Newton and Lawal first fought in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament semifinals. Now, after champion Attila Vegh was briefly sidelined due to injury, this rematch has taken on added meaning, as it will now serve as an interim title bout.
For Mo, revenge would undoubtedly be sweet, but this fight is all about the gold as far as he is concerned.
“It means a lot, you know what I’m saying, but I don’t dwell on it because it already happened,” said Lawal about the prospect of revenge. “Getting the belt means more, and getting revenge means a little less.”
So what are you doing to ensure that history does not repeat itself?
“Nothing really,” he says. “The reason I got caught was because I was loading up big shots for no reason. I was loading up, no jabs – I threw three shots – I threw a left hook, a right hand and a left hook, and then I got caught. People were saying my hands were down… my hands were up when the sequence first started; when I initiated everything. When you’re loading up with big shots, your hands don’t get back to your face as fast.”
The fighting fervor has been heating up at a rapid pace. Not only did Mo call Newton’s knockout lucky, but he also referred to the punch as feminine in other interviews, and had other choice words for Newton.
“A lot of people are getting on me for being cocky, or disrespectful, but I never said anything bad about him, because Antonio McKee trains him,” stated Lawal. “And I trained with him before. It’s a sport. It’s what we do to get paid. Why would I be disrespectful?
“But then he started going about… started talking all this trash. So this dude, I’m gonna make him look like Emmanuel Yarborough – swole in the face – when I’m done with him.”
(Yarborough was a former PRIDE FC combatant who specialized in the fighting art of Sumo.)
But couldn’t that “lucky knockout” comment be taken as a show of disrespect?
“No, no, before that. After he beat me, he was saying that, oh, ‘Mo is cocky,’ and whatever. And I was like, ‘Man, I never said nothin’ to this dude.’ Listen, he knows it was lucky, and I know it was lucky. Who lands a shot and then goes for a submission? He knows it was lucky. Who does that?
“Think about this; could you imagine Cro Cop landing a head kick and then going for an ankle lock?”
How can you argue with that logic?
Lawal quickly jumps back to the critics who pounced on him for his “lucky knockout” comments.
“The thing is with MMA fans, they’re always trying to find something. If they got offended: (expletive). I don’t care. People get offended by that, but they’ll watch two people beat each other up? Man, get the (expletive) outta here with that (expletive). Quit being such a bitch.”
As the weeks passed and the formal announcement of Lawal-Newton 2 was made official, it seemed as if no one could contain King Mo. His pre-fight jabs were in full effect and garnering ever-increasing attention. Lawal even took a shot at the “Hardcore Kid’s” fan base, calling them “black skinheads.”
Newton, who represents the hardcore music scene and borrows his fighting-moniker in homage to the culture, is a fan-favorite of the Southern Californian headbangers. And if they have a problem with Lawal’s comments, then the King invites them to do their best to attempt to “mosh pit” all over his face.
“If they got offended by that, who cares?” said Lawal with a chuckle. “If all 15 people in the hardcore movement got offended – or 100 – who cares? I don’t even know about it. If they want to get mad, they can come and try and ‘mosh pit’ on me.”
Nov. 2 is rapidly approaching – almost as quickly as the barbs being sent out from Lawal. For the hopeful champion, however, this talk isn’t adding any pressure to his title aspirations or hopes at sweet revenge. At the end of the day, this is just another fight and the talk is real. The animosity is real. And on that Saturday night at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, Lawal will not think twice about his salty rhetoric.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” said Lawal when asked if the pre-fight talk will add any pressure to perform. “I know I’m going to win. That’s how I train, that’s how I am.”
(Follow @RyanMcKinnell on Twitter)