It’s almost poetic that a fight with such high stakes was made official inside of a casino, where high stakes and a roll of the dice can mean the difference between a big win and walking home with your tail between your legs.
Such is the case in the light heavyweight tournament finals as Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal and ‘Quinton’ Rampage Jackson are poised to fight one another in an unannounced bout that will likely take place on their promotions first foray in to the pay-per-view market.
The Bellator MMA light heavyweights each won their semi-final bouts last Saturday at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut and while the latter’s performance put a stamp on an already stunning legacy, the former turned in a dominant performance and a much-needed win.
In dispatching Mikhail Zayats, Lawal took one step closer to a redemption bout with one of his nemesis’ in Emanuel Newton, but not before fighting a hated rival in Jackson. For Jackson, a chance to show that at 35-years-old, the Tennessee native still had plenty left in the tank.
The often brash pairing made their animosity known just after Jackson knocked his opponent, Christian M’Pumbu, out cold in the main event of Bellator 110 then subsequently took to the microphone to express his readiness to battle Lawal at the drop of a hat. “[M’Pumbu] said he was going to retire me, I took that personal,” Jackson said in the post-fight interview. “Y’all don’t know who you’re messing with. I’m a monster. I’m taking everybody out. Anybody who steps in the cage is going to sleep.” He spoke these words first indirectly, then directly to Lawal who had entered the ring to give fans a visual of their tournament finalists.
While both men have dabbled in professional wrestling, the proceedings seemed all too real as expletives and shoving followed suit. This isn’t football or basketball where a war of words turns in to a display of one’s talents in the ensuing game. No, this is fighting where a loss relinquished your ability to slander your opponent, at least in a practical sense. They have defeated you, hand-to-hand.
The bad-blood came out once more at the post-fight press conference back stage. While the name flags which designated each fighter’s seat at the dais had to be changed to separate the two, it didn’t stop them from engaging in a challenge to fight for free, right on the spot. “Is the cage still up?”, Jackson asked as they both stood up to be escorted back to the cage to at least have a physical boundary to contain their brawl.
Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney was seated between the two and an apprehensive grin turned in to a face that portrayed strict business as he stood to calm both men down as security rushed the stage while public relations managers from Bellator whisper to each fighter that they get paid to fight, so don’t do it for free.
Members of the media watched in hushed anticipation of what was to come. Jackson threw out whatever he could think to insult Lawal while the latter spoke through a split lip from his fight that was still slathered with vaseline to prevent bleeding. Neither man would back down and at this point, it seemed that a paycheck was a secondary motive.
While the date to their bout has not been made official, there is no denying the hype backing it is very real while the preparedness to lay their hands on one another is a palpable desire for both men.
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