Rizin World Fighting is a new promotion with an old familiar face at the helm -- Nobuyuki Sakakibara of Pride FC fame. Its inaugural show will be broadcast on Spike TV on New Year's Eve (Dec. 31, 2015) at 10 a.m. ET.
The broadcast has been dubbed "Breakfast With Fedor" ... and Emelianenko will fight Jaideep Singh in the main event of the evening.
Also scheduled for the semi-live (short tape delay) broadcast on Spike is the opening round of an eight-man Heavyweight tournament. And at least one of the participants is well familiar with tournaments on Spike TV.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal won his opening round bout at Bellator 142: "Dynamite 1," but was unable to advance because of injury. Replacement fighter Francis Carmont wound up being knocked out by "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis instead to become the 205-pound tournament winner.
How does King Mo think he will fare in this new tournament, and does this mean Bellator's self-declared "Money Weight" will take more Heavyweight fights in the United States?
We get all of the answers in today's interview for MMAmania.com, as Lawal prepares to face BAMMA veteran Brett McDermott. Before we get to his next tournament, though, King Mo lets us know what happened in his last one and the reason he was unable to move on to the finals.
"I was trying to warm up, and the longer it went the more the shit got worse. I've hurt my rib before and been able to go wrestle like 15 or 20 minutes later because y'know I'm still warm. But, 2.5 hours and I just couldn't go, man. I couldn't throw a punch, I couldn't do nothing man. It ended up being an occult fracture in my rib. A lot of these motherf---ers are saying I was scared, but I'm not afraid of nothing. Fighting is my job."
If you've never had a fractured rib you really can't judge the pain he's talking about either, especially with that long of a delay for the post-fight adrenaline rush to wear off. It's not over as far as Lawal is concerned - he'd still fight Mr. Davis.
"I'd love a fight with Phil Davis. I'm hoping that happens. We've got to see what Bellator has in mind with us after the beginning of next year. I know Liam (McGeary) is there, we have a bunch of guys there at 205, 185's even an option Heavyweight's an option but, right now I have to see what Bellator has in mind."
Speaking of the Heavyweight option, King Mo is moving up in weight again to face Brett McDermott on New Year's Eve, and Mo thinks his record (officially 5-2) is probably better than what you can find online.
"The crazy thing is, I've seen other fights that aren't on Sherdog, other fights on YouTube that ain't on his Sherdog record. So I don't know how many fights he's really had, know what I'm saying? I'm like 'Oh he's only had seven fights,' but I think he's had more than seven fights truth be told."
Based on what he's seen and what we do know from his available record, Mo rates McDermott a quality opponent.
"He's tough, he has heavy hands, he's big strong rugged. I can't underestimate him. When I watch him he doesn't look impressive until he hits people, know what I'm saying? He looks tough -- he looks like a blood and guts guy from what I can see."
Getting to fight at a natural weight and not be dehydrated and worn out before a long trip to Japan would seem to be an advantage for Mo, but in his mind the advantage was already built in regardless.
"The fact there's a payday makes it easy for me to take the fight! I'm not really worried about the weight class. I'm going to come in probably weighing anywhere from 215-217, 218. I don't really get too big. I'm going to be stronger, I'll be technical, I'm going be quicker than the guys that I'm fighting so it's all good."
King Mo may strike some people as having dual title potential based on his ability to neutralize larger opponents with wrestling, but he's not thrilled with Conor McGregor trying to be a dual weight champion ... or at least the fact he gets compared to Muhammad Ali.
Connor is a great fighter. Doin big things. Im happy for him but the Ali stands for sumthin bigger than just bein a good fighter.— King Mo (@KingMoFH) December 16, 2015
King Mo talked about the seeming controversy of his Conor McGregor remarks during our interview.
"People got mad at me because I said 'Don't compare Conor McGregor to Ali. Because Conor McGregor is Conor McGregor, not Ali. If you want compare him to Cassius Clay, COOL because there are a lot of similarities. Ali is an icon (though) know what I'm saying? He was a big figure in the Civil Rights movement. He did a lot of things for people. I wouldn't say compare Conor McGregor to Ali -- compare him to Cassius Clay because there are more similarities."
The point may be lost on some people given it's the same man aside from legally changing his name, but what Lawal is trying to get across is what that name change represents about Ali's attitude and philosophy.
"Clay was young, an Olympic champion, brash, made predictions like Conor McGregor -- he does the same thing. You can compare those two to each other, but once he became Ali he became a different person."
As for being a different person, Fedor Emelianenko hasn't fought in three years, and at 39 years old we don't know if he's the same man now he was then -- but King Mo is expecting big things from Fedor on New Year's Eve.
"Any time you see Fedor fight, regardless of who it is, it's always special. Fedor is a hell of an athlete, a hell of a fighter, and he has a fighter's mentality. Whoever he's fighting is in trouble."
Mr. Lawal wanted to be clear in answering this next question that he's not challenging Fedor and that he doesn't want to be misquoted. That said it's clear that like many fighters he's pondered having that fight.
"If I had the opportunity I would love to fight Fedor. I'm not the one to call Fedor out because he's a legend. If I had the opportunity to fight him (though) I would take it."
For now his focus is on New Year's Eve, Rizin World Fighting, and the opening round of the Heavyweight tournament.
"I wish it was two fights the first day, and the finals the second (day). That's almost better -- you knockout two and then you're only down to one. But now it's like you've got one and then you've got a day break and then you've got two fights head on. That's tough y'knamsayin? Tournaments are never easy."
And if anybody would know, it's King Mo.
Complete audio of our interview is below and "Breakfast With Fedor" coverage can be found right here on fight day.