Fight fans haven't seen a true wrestler vs. submission specialist style clash since the days of Royce Gracie, which is to say, since 1994. Tonight (Sept. 10), though, we were treated to exactly that with Muhammed Lawal hitting the mats with Roger Gracie at Strikeforce in Cincinnati.
Back in the early 90s, Brazilian jiu-jitsu reigned supreme. Did the same hold true in 2011?
I'll have to let you know another time because this bout never once hit the floor. Both men seemed hesitant to engage, overly respective of each others strengths. That is until Lawal found his range against his lanky opponent and landed a monster right hand that stiffened up Gracie and sent him crashing to the mat.
A follow up shot, which was really unnecessary, sealed the deal and "King Mo" is back in the win column for the first time since April of last year.
It was also the first loss of Gracie's young mixed martial arts career, sending him to 4-1 overall. He looked awkward throughout the match-up, leery of moving in on the powerful Lawal.
We learned why just as soon as he did.
And so squashes the debate of wrestler vs. grappler ... at least for now. It doesn't matter how great your transitions or guard passing skills are if you're flat out on the floor taking short breaths with a referee digging for your mouthpiece.
In the post-fight interview, Lawal called out Rafael Cavalcante, the man who took his light heavyweight title from him just over one year ago. He was also in action tonight, picking up a win over Yoel Romero.
Sounds like Lawal vs. Cavalcante part deux would work just fine, no?