LONG BEACH, Calif. – It wasn’t as convincing as the first time around, but Emanuel Newton proved his previous win over Muhammed Lawal was no fluke, eking out a unanimous-decision win over “King Mo” to claim Bellator MMA’s interim light heavyweight title.
The five-round title bout was the co-main event of Saturday’s Bellator 106 card at Long Beach Arena in California. It aired on Spike TV following prelims on MMAjunkie.com.
Lawal went in for a takedown in the opening minute of the fight, and while Newton defended the first effort, he was unable to stay upright as his opponent persisted on the move. Newton was active in scrambling up to his feet, but Lawal stayed with the strategy and brought his opponent repeatedly to the floor. They finished on the feet, and Lawal dropped his hands to taunt his foe in the final seconds.
Newton picked up the pace with his striking in the second, firing out a stiff jab and mixing in kicks from all angles. It took nearly two minutes for Lawal to get inside, but he did elevate and bring his opponent to the floor. Newton wisely scrambled up to his feet before Lawal could capitalize. Back on the feet, Newton landed a high kick that clearly wobbled his foe. Lawal tried to close the distance and slow things down, but Newton continued to press with strikes against what looked to be a tiring “King Mo.”
Lawal looked content to strike in the third, and he went toe-to-toe in the pocket. Newton switched his stances and mixed in kicks to the legs and body, while Lawal looked to rifle off knockout blows with heavy leather. Lawal finely moved in for a takedown in the final minute, but Newton shrugged it off and finished on the feet.
Newton again stayed at kicking range to open the fourth, blasting shots to the body while retreating from Lawal’s advances. Lawal began to look for the takedown two minutes into the frame, but Newton stuffed each attempt as he continued to switch stances and offer a wide variety of striking attempts. Lawal did finally bring the action to the canvas, but Newton crawled immediately back to his feet. To his credit, Lawal walked forward throughout, but he was outstruck by Newton.
In the final frame, Lawal landed an early right hand that staggered his opponent, but Newton recovered quickly and continued to implement his kicking-heavy attack. Lawal timed the attacks early and pushed inside, but he still couldn’t take the action down. Lawal opened a cut on Newton’s cheek, and both fighters continued to throw big shots. Lawal looked tired, but his punches were strong, and he did land a takedown in the final minute. Newton worked to his feet before taking any damage, and they finished on the feet.
Newton (22-7-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) earned the decision with three scores of 49-46, but the rounds seemed closer than the score would indicate. Still, Newton claims the belt and will now meet champ Attila Vegh in a future unification fight and rematch of their 2012 contest.
“After fighting Mo, Attila ain’t got nothing for me; I’ll tell you that much,” Newton said. “I’m ready for anything.”
Lawal (11-3 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) sees a two-fight win streak snapped.
Up-to-the-minute Bellator 106 results include:
Steven Marrocco contributed to this report on-site in Long Beach.
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