Lawal Keeps Psychological Heat on Mousasi


Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The mental chess match between Muhammed Lawal and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi hit another gear on Thursday, a little more than 48 hours before their scheduled showdown.

Mousasi will defend his title against the charismatic Lawal in a featured bout at Strikeforce “Nashville” this Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena. Their personalities clash almost as much as their styles, the champion reserved and soft-spoken, the challenger brash and forthcoming.

In an attempt to liven up the pre-fight press conference, Lawal left his seat, approached the podium and tried to bait Mousasi into imitating him. Seated at the opposite end of the table, the Armenian titleholder refused, leading to an uncomfortable silence between the two. When asked if he could mimic Mousasi, Lawal pointed to YouTube and his “Kermit the Frog impersonation” -- an open dig at his opponent’s throaty voice. Mousasi, though he seemed visibly uncomfortable with the pre-fight bluster, did his best to shrug it off.

“In the beginning, it bothered me, but now I’m OK,” he said. “It’s not my personality. Now, I can laugh about it. It’s not affecting my performance in the cage. It’s better for the sport. People are getting excited about the matchup. It’s the first time I’ve had somebody talk so much [before a fight]. It’s something I had to get used to.”

Still only 24, Mousasi will carry a 15-fight winning streak into his title defense. He has impressed in two appearances for Strikeforce, finishing UFC veterans Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. The former Dream middleweight champion has not competed since he blasted through Gary Goodridge in 94 seconds on New Year’s Eve in Japan.

Lawal, meanwhile, has gone the distance only once in six professional appearances and has finished four opponents inside one round. A one-time All-American wrestler and conference champion at Oklahoma State University, he last competed in December, when he blitzed Mike Whitehead in 3:08 in his Strikeforce debut. It marked the first time in nearly five years that Whitehead had been stopped inside the distance. Mousasi characterized the undefeated Lawal as “cocky” and “arrogant.”

“Whatever, man,” Lawal said. “He’s trying to find something to say. If I was cocky, I wouldn’t be training hard. I wouldn’t be studying him. I wouldn’t know what he does. I wouldn’t be a student of the game. I’m just having fun.”

Mousasi has no love loss for Lawal, one of the sport’s top prospects and one of its best showmen. However, he believes fighters like the Murfreesboro, Tenn., native bring a fresh dimension to the sport.

“Maybe if I knew him personally, I’d like him,” he said. “I have to fight him, so it’s different for me. He seems like a nice guy, but everybody’s different. Every fighter has a certain style. If every fighter was like me, it’d be pretty boring.”

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • 27 days ago
  • 13 views

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was fined $50,000 as a result of the brawl that took place between he and Daniel Cormier at an August 4, 2014 press event to promote UFC 178. Representatives read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 3 views

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was fined $50,000 by the Nevada Athletic Commission for his part in a brawl with Daniel Cormier on Aug. 4. read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 4 views

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and 205-pound top contender Daniel Cormier appeared before the Nevada Athletic Commission to discuss their August brawl at a press event. Both fighters receiv read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 8 views

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his next challenger, Daniel Cormier, on Tuesday were handed penalties by the Nevada Athletic Commission for a media day brawl. read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 9 views

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier were punished today for their roles in an August brawl. Check out the Twitter reactions to the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision. read news >>

  • 20 days ago
  • 34 views

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is gearing up for an early-2015 return to the octagon, and he already has an opponent in mind. Filed under: MMA Rumors, News, UFC read news >>

  • 20 days ago
  • 164 views

Watch the rematch between Jacare Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi from a different point of view from the original UFC telecast. Earlier this month, Ronaldo Souza took on Gegard Mousasi in a rematch of their read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 2 views

Light heavyweight showdown joins Tito vs. Bonnar, Chandler vs. Brooks. Newport Beach, Calif. (September 22, 2014) - The fight card for Bellator 131 continues to grow as one of the most controversial read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 73 views

There's something so cool about UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt (10-8-1)—entrancing even. He's a human paradox, a man whose very existence defies the carefully crafted rules that govern the world of combat read news >>