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Return of 'King Mo' Lawal, featherweight tourney final set for Bellator 90

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Esther Lin

Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (9-1, 1 NC) will make his return to the Bellator cage against Emanuel Newton (19-7-1) in the semifinals of Bellator's season eight light heavyweight tournament on February 21st at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, UT, promotion officials announced on Tuesday. The bout will air on Spike TV as the co-main event of Bellator 90.

Both Lawal and Newton made quick work of their opening round match-ups at Bellator 85. Fighting in his Bellator debut, former Strikeforce champion Lawal, 32, easily dispatched Przemyslaw Mysiala with strikes midway through round 1. Likewise, Newton, 29, required just one additional round to submit Atanas Djambazov via rear-naked choke.

"I said it after my quarterfinal win, and I'll say it again, I'm looking to smash this dude," Lawal stated. "Emmanuel is a tough guy, but I know where my game is at, and if I focus on me, we won't have any issues on February 21st. I'm always looking for that first round knockout, and that's it."

"This is my time," responded Newton. "Everyone knows Mo and what he brings to the table, and he's the guy I have to get through to get to my belt. The belt is what I'm here for, and it doesn't matter who is in my way to get there."

Bellator 90 is slated to be headlined by season seven's long-awaited featherweight tournament final, which pits Utah native Rad Martinez (14-2) against Russian knockout artist Shahbulat Shamhalaev (11-1-1) for a $100,000 grand prize and a guaranteed featherweight title shot. The final was initially booked to take place at Bellator 83, however a last-minute bout of food poisoning from Shamhalaev ultimately caused the match to be delayed.

Martinez, 34, defeated Nazareno Malegarie and Wagnney Fabiano via unanimous decision to reach the finals, while Shamhalaev, 29, knocked out Cody Bollinger and Mike Richman in rapid succession.