But since Newton dropped Lawal via spinning backfist in their Feb. 21 in what will go down as one of 2013's most infamous knockouts, the fighter known as "King Mo" has changed his tune toward Newton.
Lawal feels Newton has been talking smack about him heading into their rematch on Bellator's pay-per-view card in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov. 2. On Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Lawal made it clear he's not playing nice this time around.
"F-- him," said Lawal. "F--- him and f--- everybody else that rides with him. I'm going to f--- him up."
While that statement doesn't seem to leave much need for clarification, it came at the end of a rant in which Lawal expressed disappointment in what he perceived as Newton's trash talk in the wake of their first fight.
"That spinning backfist was a joke, you know what I'm saying?" Lawal said. "It's not happening. He's running his mouth like I was being disrespectful toward him, which I never have been. He trains with Antonio McKee. Antonio's my boy. But the fact he went out there and said I was disrespectful toward him, I never said a bad thing about that dude during the fight. He's going to hear a lot during the fight. You're going to hear me talk shit to him, put it like that. Hell yeah, man. F--- him. Straight up."
Lawal was just getting warmed up.
"If you gonna be you, be you 100 percent of the time," he said. "Don't be fake. You can see me at the gym. You can see me at my gym, you can see me in Dallas, New York, wherever. I'm always me. I don't turn on and turn off, I'm always me. Emanuel Newton trying to play up like Mo got cocky and he get what he deserved, trying to play up to these motherf----."
The main card bout at Long Beach Arena will be an interim Bellator light heavyweight title fight. Champion Attila Vegh is on the sidelines, though not without controversy: Bellator stated Vegh is out with an injury, while Vegh went public in claiming he was able to fight if needed.
Lawal wasn't sure what to make of the situation. "I was told he was hurt," he said. "You know what I'm saying? I don't even know the dude. All I know is I was told he's hurt, he's hurt, he's hurt. Then this pay-per-view pops up and he's not hurt no more, what's that say? He might be saying I'm not hurt no more, I'm not 100 percent but I'm willing to fight though."
King Mo, meanwhile, caused a bit of controversy in a Bellator promo for the Newton rematch, in which he referred to Newton's spinning backfist that finished the first fight as "feminine." Lawal went on to clarify what he meant.
"He didn't throw it Invicta-like," Lawal said. "If he threw it Invicta FC-like he would have ended my career. That's why I say he threw it feminine, threw it like [in a mocking voice] ‘ahh, get away from me.' Like ‘oh my God,' not feminine, but scared. He threw it like Scooby Doo and Shaggy. If I said feminine, that's my bad. I meant scary, cowardly-like. If he threw it Invicta FC-like, I would have been snoring for hours. Them girls in Invicta, they throw hard. He didn't throw it Invicta-like, he threw it scary. It landed and he got lucky."
While Lawal appeared to have intended no harm with his "feminine" comment, in case it isn't clear by now, everything he has to say about Newton going forward is personal.
"Usually I'm motivated about money," Lawal said. "This time I'm motivated about money and revenge. The fact of the matter is, he's trying to talk all this bull knowing most of this never happened. He's trying to stir stuff up trying to get a certain fan base to like him. The head bangers, the moshpitters, he's trying to get them to like him more."