EXCLUSIVE | King Mo Talks Newton Rematch, His Fighting Persona and Future
In part two of our interview, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal focuses on MMA.
Host: Transitioning to MMA here: what do you think went wrong against Emanuel Newton a couple of weekends ago at Bellator 106?
Lawal: Personally, I thought I won. I thought I won rounds one, four and five. He landed that neck kick [in round two], and I was never hurt, but it just looked good for the judges. In the third round he landed some body push kicks. That didn’t ever hurt me in the fight. As far as damage, I thought I did more damage, I thought I landed more takedowns to control the fight… and as far as coming forward, I was the aggressor. It’s just that he threw a lot of stuff out there and most of it I blocked, or he missed. The crowd would cheer when he threw a spinning back kick. He hit nothing spinning on me, nothing with power. I guess they just liked the fact that he was throwing kicks out there, even though I was blocking them. I just don’t understand. I have no marks on me, no bruises, nothing. I guess it is what it is.
Host: He threw that kick a lot, was there anything you were looking for specifically to counter every time he threw that combo?
Lawal: Yeah I was, but he was already backing up, he never committed to anything, he was just backing up. He was just like ‘flick, flick, flick’ … none of that had power, it was like flicking. It was all like ‘flick, flick, flick.’ He only landed with the toes [on the kicks]. Nothing with power, so he was never really committing to anything. He landed that one kick and that was it. … He would just throw push kicks to get me away, and I would come forward and land some shots. I tried to find the center, because I didn’t feel like chasing him, so I would go forward, land my shots, and back up [to the center]. He really didn’t land [anything] on me.
Host: Would you rather see judging go to a broad view of the fight rather than just round by round?
Lawal: I went back and watched the fight, and in the third round he landed 12 push kicks and two inside leg kicks. In the second round he landed a neck kick, six body push kicks and two inside leg kicks. First round, two body kicks and two inside leg kicks. The fourth round he landed six push body kicks and three or four inside leg kicks. In the fifth round he landed six and two [body kicks and inside leg kicks]. Really, I felt like in the fourth and fifth rounds I cut him open, and I had the bigger shots on him. His head [was] rolling backwards, I think I scored a takedown in the fourth. He might have landed more pitter-patters, but I felt like I did more effective damage. I score a fight on effective damage and control. I felt like first, fourth and fifth were my rounds, but I guess [the judges] like the pitter-patter. … All we can do is educate the judges more, and tell them what to look for.
Host: How big of a deal would you think it would be if judges could see instant replay?
Lawal: Big time, because I will tell you this: he was throwing kicks, but I blocked so many kicks and punches. I blocked so many kicks and punches on my arms and they didn’t even touch me. Even the commentator was saying ‘he is landing body kicks’. Well can you not see, commentator Jimmy [Smith], you’re right there, he is hitting my arms. It’s like this: how do you throw a push kick and not [make me] go backwards? Sometimes he would throw a push kick, and he would go backwards, so what’s that saying? How do you throw a push kick, and then get knocked backwards?
Host: Did you feel like he had that power that he had in the first fight in this rematch?
Lawal: The thing is, in the first fight, there was no power, he just caught me with the flash, I didn’t see the punch coming. In this fight, I just walked him down. If you watch the fight again they [the body kicks] weren’t [Mirko] Cro-Cop like. He would go into southpaw and throw like a donkey kick, where he pushed his legs out to try and keep me away. They were like side push kicks.
Host: Do you think he stole it with flashy kicks?
Lawal: I will tell you this: he didn’t land one spinning move on me the whole fight. Not one. He threw all that flashy stuff, but he didn’t land. A few times, I would just duck under it and swing back. … He would just hit air, and the crowd would ooo and ahh. He didn’t hit me with anything spinning whatsoever. Nothing.
Host: Do you think this fight will warrant a third fight?
Lawal: It was close, but part of it was my mistake too. I should have done things better in my warm-up. … I had lactic acid build up [in the earlier rounds]. By the fourth and fifth rounds I was back, and he was more winded than I was. It’s Bellator, so I have to go back in the tournament, win it and get my shot at whoever has the belt. I’m hoping he has it so I can really separate myself from this dude, because I think the first fight was a fluke, and the second fight I thought I won, but the judges gave it to him.
Host: You have to earn your way back, does that help you after a loss? Knowing you have to get back in there, win [the tournament] and get that title shot?
Lawal: Well it helps a lot, but the thing is, I felt like I didn’t lose the fight. I feel like the judges saw something else. Granted, I have haters that say ‘oh you lost’ or ‘oh you got your ass kicked’, but then I have people that watch the fight, and they say ‘hey I feel like you won the fight, but maybe the judges were awarding him on kicks’. … I just know I have to go back in the tournament, hopefully come February or January, win, and then get my title shot. That’s all I can do, just keep on winning and try to get to the title.
Host: Do you ever go back and look at your accomplishments?
Lawal: I just started doing that the past week. I started wrestling when I was 16, went to college on a scholarship, [became a] national champion all-American. I have done a lot, but I … always [had] tunnel-vision. The past is the past, but people underestimated me my whole life, and the fact that I am fighting and actually doing what I want to do in life is pretty cool. … People just don’t like me because I keep it real. I am a straight shooter. I’m transparent, [people] ask me something, I’m gonna answer it. People don’t like that. People think that I go by King Mo all the time. People hate me because of what the think, but they have never even met me. … You want to draw interest, so people will watch you fight. If I would act like Fedor [Emelianenko] people would say ‘oh he is emotionless like Fedor’. I’m just trying to be me, and I am just trying to get people to watch me fight.
Host: I can tell, when you put on the crown, that is your fight persona. Out of the cage you are just a regular guy, who is a sportsman, who has dreams just like anybody else.
Lawal: Here’s the thing: Ali. Ali got his persona from a pro wrestler as well. If you want to be bigger than life, if you want people to really pay attention to you, you have to be bigger than life. You have to have some mystique. Fedor, he had a mystique around him, because people thought ‘man this guy is a stone-cold killer’. … With Fedor, you didn’t know what to expect. They were waiting for Fedor to show some emotion, and he never did.
Host: Are you frustrated that you are going to have to fight a couple more times before you can get another crack at Emanuel Newton?
Lawal: I’m a fighter, and I fight whoever I have to fight to get to the belt.
Host: What is the likelihood of you fighting [Quinton] Rampage [Jackson] in the Bellator promotion?
Lawal: It could happen… I know if our paths crossed in the tournament or for the belt, we’ll fight. I’m open to fighting whoever there is in Bellator. … If they can make weight to fight me, I will fight them.
Host: When he first signed, was that a fight that instantly popped into your mind?
Lawal: Not really, because I didn’t know what he was going to do. For me, my goal is winning the belt. So, if Rampage gets the belt, then yeah, OK [we will fight]. If he is just out there for superfights, then maybe after I win the belt we can do it, but my main goal is to get to the belt.
Host: We do a thing called quick finish, just so fans can get to know you better, first, what is your go-to food after weigh-ins?
Lawal: Sweet potatoes, then maybe some chicken or some fish.
Host: Your favorite martial arts movie?
Lawal: ‘Ip Man’
Host: Favorite fighter of all time?
Lawal: Boxing: Sugar Ray Robinson or Ali. MMA: Fedor, Anderson [Silva], BJ Penn, GSP. MMA is so new, so it is hard to determine. Igor Vovchanchyn was a beast, Mark Coleman, Mark Kerr. MMA is so young, so it is hard to say who the greatest fighter of all time is.
Host: Finish by knockout or submission?
Lawal: Always knockout.