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Fresh Off His Knockout Of ‘King Mo’, Emanuel Newton Believes Bellator LHW Title Will Be His

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By Elias Cepeda

Last month, former Strikeforce champion Muhammad Lawal was scheduled to take his next academic step towards the Bellator light-heavyweight tournament title. Sure, he had to fight someone, but no one seemed to give much credit to his opponent, Emanuel Newton.

The two had traveled and trained in the same circles, even together, but their careers couldn’t have been more different. Lawal was a former top international wrestler that entered high-level MMA with great fanfare and quickly became one of the most dangerous 205-pound fighters in the world.

Newton, instead, had toiled on mostly the regional circuits for nearly ten years. He had fought, and sometimes beaten, guys who would go on to fight and win in the UFC, but Newton’s own shot at the big time had yet to come.

Fighting in the Bellator tournament, however, gave him his chance. Both Newton and Lawal won their first-round fights in January and advanced to face one another. All the attention, including from this writer and site, was on Lawal.

With his pedigree, brash public persona, and world class skills, “King Mo” was the story. The world took for granted that he had taken a step down to fight in Bellator after being fired by Zuffa (the parent company of Strikeforce and the UFC) and that Lawal would easily stomp through every one of his opponents in the tournament, Newton included.

For his part, Lawal insisted to us that Newton was a real fighter who posed real danger, but no one really listened. Fighting is intrinsically meritocratic when left to its own devices, however, and our expectations and prejudices have no bearing on what happens in the ring.

On February 21st, Emanuel Newton cut Muhammed Lawal’s Bellator coronation short by knocking him out cold in the first round with a spinning back fist. The punch, like Newton himself, looked to be an afterthought. But both packed more power and surprising timing than was expected, and tonight Newton finds himself in the finals of Bellator’s Season 8 light-heavyweight tournament against Mikhail Zayats.

The day before weighing in for the fight this week, Newton insisted to CagePotato that Lawal’s hype didn’t faze him leading up to their bout last month. “I didn’t feel too much, man. I didn’t let the hype, the attention for my opponent, anything, affect me. I had a fight in front of me and that was it,” he told us.

Not buying into your opponent’s hype is one thing, but being such an overlooked underdog had to have motivated “The Hardcore Kid.” Still, the plain-speaking Newton insists that he didn’t feel slighted. Rather, he was too busy training to worry about being insulted by being dismissed. He does allow that winning was sweet, though.

“Afterwards it was definitely sweet,” he said. “I  liked showing what I can do.”

Predictably, Newton didn’t let his surprise KO of Bellator’s biggest star distract him from his next task — fighting Zayats in about a month’s time. “I had to move forward,” he said. “I have a tough guy in front of me.”

Indeed he does. Zayats has won his past seven fights, including a TKO over former UFC title challenger, Renato “Babalu” Sobral.

Newton may not talk trash, but his confidence is unmistakable. It is also clear that much of it comes from his faith.

“I feel like I’ve got God with me and so there’s nothing I can’t do,” Newton told us.

He doesn’t seem to mean that God wants him to win and not Zayats, necessarily. Newton just seems to believe that the higher power he believes in makes anything possible for him, if he reaches out and grabs it.

“I think Mikhail is a God-fearing man as well,” Newton ended.

“But it’s just my time, now.”

Cagepotato Comments

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algfhqqn- March 30, 2013 at 10:36 am
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TheCrooner- March 29, 2013 at 10:47 am
Viva hate are you from New England? ;)
The12ozCurls- March 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm
Hey EC,

"intrinsically meritocratic"

You do know that half the mouth-breathers that visit this site will have no god damned idea what the hell that means. Those simpletons are lost and need their mommy to microwave their dinner for them, yet you expect them to be able to comprehend back-to-back multisyllabic words. BTW, way to flex the verbose vocabulary - show off.
Elias- March 28, 2013 at 3:22 pm
I don't know what it means, either so...
The12ozCurls- March 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm
Figures ;)
angry little feet- March 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm
Ha! And you gave me shit for aperitif!
Viva Hate- March 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm
Believe in the power of hardcore! No need for the announcers tonight, instead pop on some Terror, Bane, Have Heart, Slapshot, Strife, Death Before Dishonor or Donnybrook as a soundtrack for the fight.
Fried Taco- March 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm
Jesus > Mohammed, now let's see Him take on the Russian Orthodox church.
catshittacos- March 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm
mmm king mo falls down slow mo
El Guapo- March 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm
Sho Nuff.. I'm confused. You were defending Ray Lewis like he was your brother and now you're talking shit about religious athletes. What the fuck?
Sho Nuff- March 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm
I never defended Ray's religious silliness, he's one of the worst offenders out there. What I commented on was how certain racist white people can't let anyone even mention the Ravens without them having to jump in and go on and on about "Ray Lewis the murderer". I would never, ever defend Ray Lewis's "that pancaking was delivered by the power of Jesus" nonsense.
Sho Nuff- March 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm
Man, Christian athletes are narcissistic morons. "Blessed be my fists, for they beateth my foes face in, as Jesus taught." Seriously, there's nothing wrong with being religious, but these athletes/rappers/actors that believe that God is personally enabling their TDs or knockouts or hit song "Smack Mah Bitch Up" are the worst kind of self-centered boobs.