Bellator 106 will air live and free on Spike T.V this Saturday straight out of the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California. Headlined by the pivotal rematch between the lightweight champion Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, the co-main event features yet another title fight rematch, the second of three on the card, between Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Emanuel Newton. The winner of this light heavyweight showdown will be crowned the interim light heavyweight champion.
When the two first met in the semi-final round of the Season 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament, “King Mo” was by far the favorite going into the fight. Little did viewers and Lawal himself know one of the biggest upsets of the year was about to take place.
Little faith was placed in Newton who was looked at as nothing more than a stepping stone for Lawal’s journey to the belt. And during the fight, it seems Lawal believed the same as his over confidence was a huge contributing factor to his loss. If you missed the first fight, Lawal was working his jab and countering effectively to the looping punches of Newton. Though Newton wasn’t without success as he was occasionally finding success with an overhand right. While Lawal showed good head movement, his hands remained at his waist for the majority of the round. Newton swung with a huge overhand right, missed, but followed it up with a spinning back fist that landed flush on an unsuspecting, hands-at-his-waist Lawal knocking him out forcing referee Rob Hinds to immediately stop the fight.
Newton was a huge underdog going into that fight and going into the rematch he still is considered the underdog, though by marginally less this time around – and for good reason. Newton showed that he can find a way to win in the stand up, but Lawal’s wrestling prowess went completely unused in their first fight and it’s very safe to say that this will not be the case come the rematch. Assuming Lawal has been humbled in his striking, which it appears so as we’ve most recently seen him earn a dominating TKO victory over Jacob Noe after utilizing his take downs, he will put his best efforts towards making sure he doesn’t leave himself vulnerable the same way he did the first fight.
One of the biggest deciding factors in this fight will be the take down defense of Newton. If he is able to stuff the take downs of Lawal, he may be able to land some fight changing shots and swing the momentum in his favor early. While another spinning back fist knockout is very, very unlikely, look for Newton to cock back that overhand right and throw it very often as he found a home for it early on in their first fight.
However, that isn’t to say that Newton is a superior striker to Lawal. They each have their methods of success – Newton has great hand speed, a lead leg high kick, and a powerful overhand right while Lawal has great head movement, a wicked jab, and a decent overhand of his own. But Newton’s chance at success is much greater on his feet than it is on the ground, especially if he is fighting off a smothering Lawal from on his back.
Prediction: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal def. Emanuel Newton by TKO in the third round.
It would not be surprising to me in the least if Newton made attempts to mix up his striking with take down attempts to keep Lawal guessing, as the predictable strategy for Newton would be to drill take down defense and his overhand right. But the intelligent thing to do would be to catch Lawal off guard with some offensive wrestling of his own to create openings for that big knock out punch. However, the likelihood of him finding success in doing so is rather slim as Lawal will look to smother him from the opening bell. Lawal will not be taking any chances in this fight – he’s out of excuses to give should he face another loss, and he cannot afford another blow to his stock as a fighter. His smothering fighting style will make a return in this fight early in the rounds as he will look to wear out Newton taking away his power early. Lawal, in an effort to showcase that he is the better striker, may look to keep the fight standing later on in the fight while he is fresher than Newton, but the outcome will remain the same – Lawal should score a TKO somewhere in the third round after securing a take down and landing a high volume of ground and pound. However, the finish will certainly not come easy as Newton hasn’t been finished by strikes in almost exactly 10 years.