The kingdom gets rocked: Lawal knocked out in second Bellator fight
There is an early favorite for Knockout and Upset of the Year in mixed martial arts.
Unfortunately for Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, the Plano East alum is on the wrong end of both of those superlatives as he was stopped by Emanuel Newton 2:35 into the first round of his light heavyweight tournament semifinal Thursday night.
The fight was part of Bellator 90 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.
Lawal, who made his Bellator Fighting Championships debut four weeks earlier with a first-round knockout of Przemyslaw Mysiala, came into the bout with plenty of confidence.
"Every man is a Rubik's Cube," he said, "and you just have to find the right equation to figure him out."
On the other side of the cage, Newton (20-7-1) entered the fight as big as a 14-to-1 underdog in some sports books.
"King Mo is the best fighter I've ever faced," he said, "but you can't fight scared."
Newton followed that game plan as he came out aggressive in the first round and peppered Lawal (9-2-1) with strikes over the first two minutes as the former Panther continually held his hands low. That strategy would cost Lawal soon thereafter as he was knocked out cold with a spinning left backfist that left Bellator announcer Jimmy Smith screaming, "Oh my God, he's done."
Newton landed another right as Lawal went down and went for a choke, but his opponent was out the moment he hit the spinning backfist and the fight was stopped accordingly 2:35 into the first round.
The knockout was listed at No. 9 on SportsCenter's Top 10 Thursday night.
"I saw Mo was dropping his hands a lot and throwing these big haymakers," Newton said, "so I figured I'm gonna duck under one, and I turned and out of the corner of my eye I saw him there and I thought, 'I'm gonna throw it.' I threw it and it landed."
The win was Newton's eighth in his last nine fights.
For Lawal, Thursday marked just the second loss of his professional career with the other coming Aug. 21, 2010 when he dropped his Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship to Rafael Cavalcante via third-round TKO.
Newton will next fight Mikhail Zyats (21-6) in the tournament finals with the winner earning a title shot. Lawal said prior to the fight, "I'm gonna be the champ," but had a more conciliatory tone on Twitter late Thursday night.
"Got caught," Lawal said. "Great job Emanuel. Anyone can be defeated; back to the drawing board."