LONG BEACH, Calif. -- If you thought the ongoing war of words between "King" Mo Lawal and Emanuel Newton was going to simmer down now that their rematch for Bellator's interim light heavyweight title is just around the corner, well, guess again.
The duo continued trading barbs during separate interview sessions Thursday at the open workouts for their Saturday night fight at Long Beach Arena.
"What will not happen is that ugly-ass dance of his where he looks like a voodoo priestess," said Lawal, who lost to Newton via upset knockout in February, "Again, y'all won't see that dance."
"Did he say that? Newton retorted. "Now that I know that I'm going to put a little extra stomp into my dance when I win this fight. ... You'd never hear me say ‘the reason why I want to win is I don't want to see Mo with his crown on his head.' That's just where we're different. I don't care. Worry about yourself, bro, don't worry about me."
Indeed, the contrasts are stark. As has been hashed out on separate MMA Hour appearances, Lawal feels that Newton has been disrespecting him since Newton scored a sensational spinning backfist knockout in their first fight; Newton feels Lawal is misrepresenting his affinity for Southern California's hardcore music scene and trying to turn it into a racial matter.
Neither fighter backed down from their stance on Thursday.
"What I said that was so bad?" Lawal said. "I called him a black skinhead, right? OK, I did my research, I saw a documentary awhile ago about skinheads that follow a music genre called hardcore. He's a hardcore kid he does that ugly-ass dance and all that stupid s---. ... I just said he's a black skinhead. I didn't say he was a racist against his own people. He likes that hardcore music that skinheads like. Is that bad?"
"That just shows ignorance, he doesn't understand that there are different walks of life," Newton countered. "Because he figures because if I listen to a heavier style of music, I'm at the Warped Tour and Ozzfest and running around with skinheads. You'll never see me at an Ozzfest, it's not mainstream, it's all underground. The LA hardcore scene is a way of life, the majority of the people in the scene are Mexican, with some whites and black people."
Then there was the issue of the words allegedly exchanged between the two in the sauna as both cut weight for their first fight. Lawal's version of the story has Newton saying, "I'm coming for you, [racial slur]."
"He says 'well, I never said that word in my life,'" Lawal said. "Well, I can't speak for everybody, but, 95.6 percent of us have said that word before. You said it, you heard it. He was trying to make it, ‘I grew up in Orange County, was raised by a nice white family, blah blah blah, Mo's delusional, Mo's this, Mo's that. I never say anything disrespectful to women.' We all have. I'm keeping it real, growing up we all said things like that. He tries to make it sound like I"m an ignorant thug or something like that. I'm college educated. Is he?"
For his part, Newton said he misremembered the sauna exchange when he spoke about it on the MMA Hour.
"The only thing I didn't recollect was when me and Mo were in the sauna the last time cutting weight and I didn't recollect," Newton said. "I said ‘I'm coming for you.' But I know Mo, and it wasn't like I was coming at him in a hostile way, you know? I was just saying, ‘I'm coming for you, be ready.' Obviously we were fighting each other, there was bad blood, I don't remember saying anything messed up to him. He runs his mouth and talks crap all the time, but when I say I'm coming for you, it becomes an issue? ... I don't regret saying anything to him."
While this has all played out like a new episode of the Fuse series "Beef," the fight itself and what it means within the division has almost become an afterthought.
Newton, who is based in Long Beach, feels Saturday night is his chance to show that the first fight wasn't a lucky punch.
"I just want to go out there and win, anyway," said Newton. "I don't want it to go a five-round fight, but I don't want people to go ‘oh it was just a lucky punch.' This was the fastest I've been, the most technical I've been. My mind is right. I definitely want to go out there and show it wasn't a fluke. I think Mo has more to prove than I do, but at the same time, I want to finish him once again.
"Anything can happen on any day," Lawal said. "There are few people who are on point 99 percent of the time ... A fight is a fight. Anything can happen. Emanuel Newton, he got me, he's worthy of us fighting again. Luckily I won my matches, I'm looking forward to fighting him again, I'm excited for every fight."