When "King" Muhammed Lawal signed to Bellator, it was assumed that he was going to run through what was perceived as a "shallow" light heavyweight division. He'd win the season 8 tournament and soon become the champion of the division.
One spinning backfist later and those plans came crashing down. His opponent, Emanuel Newton, would go on to win the tournament and secure a shot at champion Attilah Vegh's belt.
Lawal ran through the four-man "Summer Series" tournament. And when Vegh was sidelined by a supposed injury, Newton and Lawal got to scrap again last night (Nov. 2, 2013) at Bellator 106 in Long Beach, California at the Long Beach Arena.
Newton again defeated Lawal, this time by unanimous decision. Lawal was asked about the fight at the post-fight press conference and while he paid respects to Newton, he doesn't feel like he lost the fight.
I want to shout out to Emanuel Newton for a good victory. Personally, I feel like I won rounds 1, 4, and 5. But the judges saw it a different way. It is what it is. I'm just gonna bounce back in the tournament and get my title shot again. Things happen and all I can do is move forward and get my shot back.
Personally, I thought it was a pretty clear win for Newton. Lawal failed on the majority of his takedown attempts and just never was able to find his range on the feet.
If he can figure out a way to return to his wrestling-first style, Lawal can be a force in Bellator. But if he's just another wrestler who has fallen in love with his boxing, it's probable that he'll never sniff championship gold.