Newton Eager to Prove Doubters Wrong with Second Win Over ‘King Mo’ at Bellator 106
“It wasn’t something where people were like, ‘Man I want to see [Newton and Vegh] fight again.’ But with Mo, people can say it’s a fluke. They can say Emanuel just landed a lucky one,” Newton recently told Sherdog.com. “Mo is a rising star, let’s try this again. They [Bellator] invested a lot in Mo -- they weren’t expecting this to happen. I’m sure they want to give him another shot, and that’s what the fans want to see.”
Lawal had to earn his opportunity by defeating Seth Petruzelli and Jacob Noe to capture Bellator’s 2013 Summer Series tournament, and the winner of Newton-Lawal is expected to face Vegh at a later date. However, an injury to Tito Ortiz ruined Saturday’s original main event and forced Bellator officials to scrap the pay-per-view plans. Instead, the two light heavyweights will square off as part of a free Bellator 106 card that airs on Spike beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
The format change means little to Newton. What’s important is that both he and Lawal are healthy and ready to fight.
“When I go up to fight, I don’t even see the cameras. I don’t pay attention to any of that,” he said. “I’m just going to go in there and smash Mo once again.”
Over the course of his 29-bout career, Newton has never known as a knockout machine. The finish of Lawal was just his third stoppage via strikes. Eight of his triumphs have come by way of submission, 10 more have gone the distance. That said, Newton believes he was getting the better of Lawal before the unorthodox strike landed, and he says he has the tools to get the job done again -- even if it requires different methods this time around.
“I think he was definitely overlooking me,” Newton said. “That’s just Mo. He can be cocky and arrogant and it bit him in the ass. At the same time, even when he was trying to put his striking together I was still peppering him and landing more strikes than he landed.
“You’re gonna see more awkwardness, more creativity and more technique from me this next fight. I’m gonna be the faster, stronger and more technical fighter. I’m expecting a different fight but I’m ready for whatever he’s gonna throw at me.”
Even if their second meeting looks nothing like the first, Newton would like to point out that his initial victory over Lawal was far from fortuitous. He disputes Lawal’s notion that he was running when he landed the spinning-back fist that would wind up on SportCenter’s Top 10 Plays back in February.
“I knew exactly where he was. It was just an awkwardly thrown strike. That’s how I am. I can throw anything from any position anywhere in the ring and it can put you out on your feet,” he said.
“After that, it just made me realize how versatile I am in my striking and how technical I am. It’s not like I don’t know how to wrestle. I know how to wrestle too. What he’s expecting to happen isn’t going to happen for him.”
Glitz and glamour no concern for Bellator champ Michael Chandler
And when Bellator, who scrapped when the plans when injured Tito Ortiz pulled out of a planned headliner with Quinton Jackson, decides to dip its toes into the world of PPV, he expects to be on the card. He's put in the work to get there.
"If they put one on next year, I think they'd be a little crazy to not put me on it," Chandler told MMAjunkie.com Radio. "So I'm not worried about it, man."
Chandler doesn't seem worried about much when it comes to show-business side of the fight industry, or his status within it. But maybe that's because they've never played a starring role in his life as a professional athlete. While others fret about how to market themselves to a fickle fan base, he focuses on improving his skills as an MMA fighter and defending the title he won from Alvarez in 2011.
The glitz brought by his belt is a distant third, if that.
"It's not that I think of myself negatively, or not a world champion," Chandler said. "But I don't really think about that. I think it just stems from wrestling. Wrestlers are nobodies in the sport world. Wrestlers are the lowest on the totem pole when it comes to college sports."
While competing on the mats for the University of Missouri, he remembers a meet opposite Oklahoma State University. Together, the schools were respectively ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country. By any standard, the tournament was a clash of giants, a collision of the country's best talent.
And nobody wanted to talk to him about it.
"Nobody got coverage," Chandler said. "No interviews. Maybe a thousand fans packed into little Hearnes Center in Columbia. We just come from those humble beginnings."
Perhaps it's that modest upbringing that separates him from other Bellator fighters looking to jump ship to the UFC at the first sign of interest. The Viacom-owned promotion lost its middleweight champion to the industry-leader and clashed in court with Alvarez over an offer to cross over. Meanwhile, Chandler signed a lucrative contract extension to stay put, and he frequently plays the role of goodwill ambassador during media appearances.
In turn, he's one of Bellator's most heavily promoted athletes. But he also aims to make an impact on the MMA world as one of the faces of the tournament-based organization.
"I look at myself like a champion, and I tell myself every day that God put me in this sport not just to be good, but to be great and extraordinary – and not just for myself and for the money and the notoriety, but to be able to reach people," Chandler said.
When he fights Alvarez at Long Beach Arena in California, Chandler's work is likely to be seen by far more fans than if Bellator had gone through with the PPV. A second win over Alvarez would further cement his reputation as the best lightweight the promotion has to offer. It might also get more fans matching him up in fantasy with his UFC counterparts.
The more he continues to succeed, the more he can count on the spotlight chasing him. But for now, he's grateful for what he has and what's ahead.
"I'm just so thankful that I have this opportunity, and I just realize that I have so much more work to do," Chandler said. "I haven't even scratched the surface. I'm just excited about all the hard work I have in front of me, and I don't have time to sit around and pat myself on the back. But I promise I want to make a name for myself and create a legacy."
With Parisyan injured, Souza meets Garcia at Saturday's Bellator 106 event
With Karo Parisyan (22-10 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) injured, Alejandro Garcia (14-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has stepped in as a replacement and will fight fellow welterweight Cristiano "Soldier Boy" Souza (6-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) at Saturday's Bellator 106 event.
Bellator officials announced the matchup on Monday.
Bellator 106 takes place at Long Beach Arena in California. The main card airs on Spike TV following prelims on Spike.com.
Souza vs. Garcia is slated for the prelims.