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.
From Around the Web

Related News

  • 28 days ago
  • 19 views

Former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi threw his name into the hat and revealed interest in a match-up against Vitor Belfort at UFC 184. After it was revealed on Friday afternoon that middleweigh read news >>

  • 26 days ago
  • 0 views

Former Strikeforce champion King Muhammed Lawal sat down with Submission radio to speculate about Brock Lesnar potentially joining him on the Bellator MMA roster, and why it would benefit the sport. read news >>

  • 26 days ago
  • 12 views

Former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion King Muhammed Lawal offers his impression of CM Punk after watching the former WWE star train. read news >>

  • 3 days ago
  • 1 views

Muhammed Lawal said he won’t change much for his heavyweight showdown with Cheick Kongo this Friday at Bellator 134.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 3 views

Fresh off one of the most high-profile victories of his career, Gegard Mousasi apparently wants to keep the momentum rolling with a fight that would undoubtedly be the biggest of his fighting life: a read news >>

  • 26 days ago
  • 1 views

Muhammed Lawal may be Bellator's main light heavyweight attraction, but the former Strikeforce berserker had some very interesting comments regarding Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) latest sig read news >>

  • 26 days ago
  • 268 views

King Muhammed Lawal joined Submission Radio once again to talk about Kimbo Slice and former WCW star Bill Goldberg's surprisingly competent MMA game. read news >>

  • 25 days ago
  • 18 views

After hearing Gegard Mousasi explaining a down 2014 campaign due to 'being burnt out,' it was interesting to hear he'd be willing to jump back into action so soon. Mousasi credited his Jan. 24 victor read news >>

  • 25 days ago
  • 10 views

Haven't we been through this already? Top ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender, Vitor Belfort made it almost excruciatingly clear that his only interest is to fight for read news >>