LONG BEACH, Calif. – Bellator light heavyweight Emanuel Newton not only sees his rematch with Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal as a professional task, but a religious obligation.
Newton (21-7-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), who in February upset Lawal (11-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) via knockout, on Thursday told reporters that Lawal is more than just an opponent he’d like to again defeat, but an affront to his belief system.
“God has been very strong in this camp, in my mind and my way of thinking, especially going against Mo, a prideful, arrogant man,” Newton told MMAjunkie.com. “It’s everything my God doesn’t stand for, so I’m actually entering (the arena) to a revelations song. It’s going to be interesting when the fans hear that. But it gets me hyped, and I’m going to need all of God’s love that night.”
There hasn’t been much love to go around between Newton and Lawal in advance of their second fight, which serves as the co-headliner of Bellator 106 and will be contested for the promotion’s interim light heavyweight title. The event takes place at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif.
Bellator 106's main card, including Newton vs. Lawal, airs live in Spike TV following Spike.com.
Earlier this week, the two engaged in a heated discussion during an online MMA show in which Lawal accused Newton of using a racial epithet in reference to him prior to their first bout.
Despite the encounter, Newton said he has “nothing bad to say” about Lawal, and yet he is unapologetic about the run-in.
“I feel fine,” he said. “The only thing I didn’t recollect was when me and Mo were in the sauna last time cutting weight and I said ‘I’m coming for you.’ But I know Mo, it wasn’t even like I was coming at him in a hostile way. I was just saying, ‘I’m coming for you.’ You know, be ready, because I was ready for that fight. Obviously, we were going to be fighting each other, so there was no bad blood. I wasn’t trying to say anything messed up to him. He runs his mouth and talks crap all the time, but when I say, ‘I’m coming for you,’ just messing around, or not being all crazy about it, then it becomes an issue?
“Other than that, I’ve never said anything bad about Mo. I don’t know where he’s getting this information from. I’m not a trash talker. All the people that know me know that I have no reason to talk trash. You’re not being humble, and then [you could] go in the ring and get knocked out and look like an idiot, so why would I do that to myself? So I don’t regret anything I said to him, because I didn’t say anything bad to him.”
Lawal, a former Strikeforce champion, called Newton a “black skinhead” during the interview and defended his choice of words during an open workout for media members.
“I did my research,” he said. “I saw a documentary a while ago about skinheads that follow a music genre called ‘hardcore.’ And he’s ‘The Hardcore Kid,’ right? He likes hardcore music. He does that ugly-ass dance, that stupid s–t. So I put two and two together and said, ‘Hey! He’s a black skinhead.’”
Newton wasn’t overly offended by the tag, but he wasn’t amused by it, either.
“That just shows ignorance that he doesn’t understand that there’s different walks of life,” he said. “All because he figures if I listen to a heavier style of music that I’m at the Warped tours and Ozzfest running around with skinheads. Not at all. Hardcore music is all underground. You’ll never see me … at anything like that. [Hardcore isn't] mainstream.
“The majority of people in the L.A. hardcore scene are Mexican, and there are some blacks and whites. But it’s a way of life, and I don’t think he understands. He figures if I listen to heavy music, then I have to be a skinhead. I don’t listen to rap or Little Wayne or Drake. I think that music is ruining our generation. Everybody is disrespectful now. Disrespectful toward women, disrespectful to their elders. Everybody wants to do Molly and do a bunch of drugs, and I think that’s really stupid. That’s not me.”
Newton, a devout Christian, said he found his faith after a series of traumatic events as he was growing up in Orange County, Calif., and became a devotee of “hardcore” music known as much for its lack of chemical excess as its aggressive style.
“God is not so much a religion for me as a reality,” he said. “The things that I’ve been through in my life, from my motorcycle accident to the loss of both of my parents, I’ve always been well taken care of. God takes care of the orphans more than he takes care of the normal people.
“I’ve been through a lot of struggles, but it’s all been for a reason: To get me to this point. That’s why I say it’s my time. God chose me that it was my time. I’ve been wondering, ‘I’ve been fighting for 11 years, how come I haven’t made it here yet?’ Because I wasn’t ready for it, mentally, physically, and spiritually. But now I am, and that’s why I’ll have victory on Saturday night.”
If successful, Newton said he’ll put a little more energy into a trademark post-fight celebration where he dances in the “windmill” style popular to hardcore music.
The reason? “King Mo” said earlier that day that his chief goal is to keep people from seeing Newton do it.
“Now that I know that, I’m going to make sure to put a little extra stomp into my dance now after I win this fight,” Newton said.
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