“To take revenge halfheartedly is to court disaster; either condemn or crown your hatred.” – Pierre Corneille

The date was Feb. 21, 2013. The setting was the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Bellator season-eight light heavyweight tournament semifinals pitted tournament favorite Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal against well-traveled veteran Emanuel Newton. Midway through the first round, a backpedaling Newton unleashed an unexpected spinning back fist that caught Lawal flush on the jaw and sent shockwaves through the MMA world.

More than eight months later, Lawal will have his chance for revenge at Bellator 106 on Nov. 2. This time, the promotion’s interim light heavyweight championship is up for grabs. Although Lawal has fought twice since the pair’s first meeting, the outcome of that first fight is still fresh on his mind.

“People said my hands were down and whatnot, but my hands were up,” recalled Lawal in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “When you are loading up on punches, throwing an overhand right, your hands go down and then back up because all of your weight is coming forward. I was throwing fast and hard, so my hands were coming back up. He caught me when I was trying to load up, that’s all it was.”

Lawal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Lawal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Heading into the rematch, Lawal won’t shy away from the fact that he wants to avenge the knockout loss. The pair has traded barbs publicly. Now, after two straight knockout wins over Seth Petruzelli and Jacob Noe, the former Strikeforce champion is out to prove that Newton’s victory was a fluke.

“I want [revenge] pretty bad, but I want the win, first and foremost,” declared the 32-year-old. “Everything else comes after that.”

The “everything else” to which Lawal refers comes in the form of not only the interim belt, but the guaranteed shot at the current champion, Attila Vegh. With Newton’s win over Lawal and subsequent win over Mikhail Zayats in the season-eight tournament final, he was slated to challenge Vegh next. However, the Slovakian Vegh was forced to deal with a shoulder injury earlier in the year, necessitating the interim title fight between Lawal and Newton.

“Vegh’s healthy now, but when the fight was announced, I don’t think he was 100 percent,” Lawal said of the champion. “I know he normally trains with American Top Team, and when the fight was announced, he was back home [in Slovakia]. I figure that he got healthy after the fight was announced, but by then it was too late.”

Since the interim belt is at stake, the rematch with Newton will be a five-round affair. Lawal has gone 25 minutes before in his career, but not since 2010. Nevertheless, the fighter is confident that he’ll be ready when the cage door shuts on Saturday night.

“The thing is that I’ll be relaxed,” declared Lawal. “When I fought [Gegard] Mousasi, I didn’t know what I was doing. That was only a year and a half into my career. I was just out there fighting. I pushed through and outworked him. Now, I’m more relaxed. I’ve been in the game for a while. I went to Lake Tahoe and trained in the mountains for a week, and I was breezing through that. It was like nothing to me. Five rounds is going to be easy.”

After months of preparing and plotting his revenge against Newton, the whole scenario nearly fell apart just a week out from the event. When headliner Tito Ortiz was forced off the card due to a broken neck, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was left without an opponent.

Lawal (Will Fox/Sherdog)

Lawal (Will Fox/Sherdog)

“I told them that if they needed me to step up and fight Rampage, I would,” revealed Lawal.

The fight with Rampage did not come to fruition for Lawal, but the injury to Ortiz resonated throughout the card. It quickly put things in perspective for Lawal.

“It’s kind of crazy; I hope Tito’s okay,” expressed the former All-American wrestler. “They said he could have paralysis if there’s any impact to his neck. Hopefully, he’ll be safe and won’t have to face any debilitating effects of this injury. He’s got kids, and I’m pretty sure he wants to play with them and be active. Hopefully, he won’t have nerve damage and it won’t affect his walking or feeling.”

Ortiz’s absence and Rampage’s subsequent removal from the card led to Bellator and parent company Viacom moving the event from pay-per-view to Spike TV. While many would see the switch as a disappointment, Lawal fails to find a downside.

“I prefer it to be on Spike,” he proclaimed. “Pay-per-view is good, but with Spike we can get more eyes on the event. I don’t care; I’ll fight in front of nobody. It makes no difference to me.”

With the potential fight with Rampage quickly off the table, Lawal turned his attention back to the bout with Newton and his eventual goal: becoming Bellator champion.

“That’s the goal, to be champion. And get the respect back,” said Lawal. “It starts on Nov. 2 when I punish Emanuel Newton. It doesn’t matter if it’s one round, two rounds, three, four or five. I’m going to punish him, and then I’m going to punish Attila Vegh.”

So what should fans expect when they tune into Spike TV on Nov. 2?

“You won’t see that ugly-ass dance that Emanuel Newton does,” Lawal predicted with a laugh. “You’re not going to see that shit. Period. You won’t see his hand get raised. You’ll see that belt around my waist. Those are three things you’ll definitely see.”

If Lawal gets his way, his dish of revenge will be served (out) cold.

Lawal would like to thank everyone that has helped him train, Mayweather Boxing, MMA Elite, Lana’s Egg Whites, CS Sports Gear, Strength Brands and Nutrition Zone. Follow King Mo on Twitter: @KingMoFH

Top Photo: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

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