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Dieting with the enemy: Emanuel Newton dishes on Linton Vassell ahead of Bellator 149 brawl

Bellator MMA

Bellator 149: "Shamrock vs. Gracie 3" comes to Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, this weekend (Fri., Feb. 19, 2016). It's a stacked Spike TV-televised main card that includes an Openweight rematch between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie, as well as a Heavyweight grudge match between Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000.

Bolstering that line-up is a Light Heavyweight rematch that pits Emanuel Newton against Linton Vassell. Some would say "Hardcore Kid" already has his number -- Newton made his last successful title defense against Vassell at Bellator 130 before he dropped the belt to Liam McGeary.

Both men have something to prove in this match, though, each having lost two out of their last three bouts, including their opening round Light Heavyweight tournament at Bellator 142: "Dynamite 1." The matter may be even more urgent for Newton because he doesn't want to be on a three-fight skid.

Newton recently spoke with about his attempt to get back on track with his first win since Oct. 2014 as Vassell guns to prove he's the better man in the rematch.

Newton may blow a few minds with this tidbit -- he and his team gave his opponent some tips before their second fight.

"I'm sure that his weight cuts have been better (because) we actually helped him out with his weight cuts! He would come to us and be like, 'Man I cut so much weight!' And then my trainer Antonio (McKee) gave him some ideas and all of a sudden he's like, 'Man my weight cuts have been so easy, y'know?' And then I'm kind of like, 'F--k man, we gave him a golden jewel there,' but, y'know, it is what it is!"

To wrap your head around the notion of Newton helping his opponent, it helps to understand his strong belief in God. Every fighter seems to praise the Lord after a win, but Newton says faith alone doesn't move mountains.

"When it comes down to that I think it's more just the other person's work. You hear about many stories in the Bible where it's like, who's going to bring the best offering, who's going to do the most, and who's going to show (more) and listen more. If you do better than your brother then Dad's going to give the brother a little more praise. It's the same way I feel with God. That's what you see just in general. People that study the most get the best grades. People that put the most time in the gym have the best showings in the ring."

Hard work didn't allow Newton to persevere in his last two fights, but he feels that everything is about to change going into Bellator 149. His plan is to work as hard as he can, but not go past the point he'll break down his body.

"I'm not a huge Light Heavyweight, so my weight cuts aren't that bad, and then I've done some more weight training for this fight, but I always stick more to my cardio. I always make sure my cardio's on point, and my mindset's always on point. I have a deep mind and I can go very deep into myself and find new strengths and new levels of that second wind to keep pushing forward."

Training the mind is just as important as training the body. Vassell is undoubtedly practicing self-visualization and inner focus as well, though seeing himself avenge his loss to Newton. "Hardcore Kid" isn't worried about it because, at least according to him, he can set a faster pace in a non-title fight.

"I've been fighting for 13 years, man. I've fought plenty of three round fights, I've fought plenty of five round fights, I've even fought some of the two round fights. All that means (in this fight) is I just have to go harder, push harder, be faster, be more aggressive and not be worried about my cardio or anything because I know it's there so (I'll) just blast through anything in my way."

Newton vows that he's fully prepared for a new and improved Vassell. And whatever "The Swarm" brings his way, he won't feel the sting from it this Friday night.

"I know Linton's always getting stronger and he puts a lot of time in at the gym, but a lot of the times, too, I feel that can go against a fighter, especially a fighter with the size and physique of Linton. Putting a lot of time into the gym can go against you because it's very easy to overtrain a body like his. I know that he worked his butt off, so we'll just see what he brings in the cage."

Newton's gunning to avenge losses, too, whether it's to the champion Liam McGeary or to tournament winner "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis -- he'd gladly face either one.

"Liam is just so awkward man. Obviously Phil's not going to have a problem taking him down, because I didn't have a problem taking (McGeary) down and Phil's a phenomenal wrestler, but Liam's so awkward off his back. Anybody that goes on the ground with him is going to be in for a world of different grappling because he's so long and so freaking flexible for how tall he is. I'd definitely be interested to see them grapple and go at it on the ground and see who comes out on top."

Bellator hasn't announced a match for either man so far in 2016, but if it all goes well for Newton this Friday night, he'll be waiting to face either one.

Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.


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