Bellator’s light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton will defend his title tonight in Bellator 124 for the first time since defeating Attila Végh to become the true title holder. He’s built an extremely successful record of 23-7-1 starting in WEC, King of the Cage, MFC and Shark Fights before signing on with Bellator MMA. He’s racked up a 6-1 record inside the Bellator arena, and will put it all on the line against tonight’s competitor Joey Beltran. We talk MMA, spinning backfists, and the organization’s progress under Scott Coker with the light heavyweight champ.
Did you plan that famous spinning backfist against King Mo? How how did you do that?
Newton: I played on Kingo Mo’s cockiness and his arrogance you know? I beat him with my humbleness. Mo was the one for me to show my skills against. It was my time to shine.
You’ve done phenomenal in your past few fights. Does it bother you when they go to a judges’ decision?
Newton: I think everything happens for a reason. It doesn’t really matter to me and I think every fight helps you grow. I’ve earned a place in the spotlight by being a champion. You’re going to see a finish and you’re going to see a different Emanuel Newton tonight.
You’re going up against Joey Beltran. What is your confidence level with him? Do you feel like this will be a tough fight?
Newton: Joey’s tough. He has good cardio and a good chin on him. But is this my time? Yes. Am I I going to win? Yes. That’s what I’ve earned because I’ve made the sacrifices and put in the time in training. We’re programmed for fear and stress, but when it comes down to it, it’s just not the way we’re supposed to live. We’re supposed to relax. I always try to open my mind to the bigger picture of the things around us. I think you guys will see that tonight.
The last time you fought was with Attila Végh in Bellator 113 when Bellator was still under Bjorn Rebney. Have you had much time to deal with Scott Coker since he came on board?
Newton: Me and Scott have talked and he’s a great president. He has a very bright outlook on the future of Bellator. We’ve touched bases on a lot of things and when it comes down to it, I think he’s got the best interest of the fighters in mind. With Bjorn, there was always some behind the scenes stuff going on. He had other agendas on his mind. But Scott is definitely for the fighters and he’s gonna make sure that we get what’s fair. I think everything happens for a reason.
Is there any bad blood or smack talk between you and Joey Beltran at all?
Newton: I have the utmost respect for Joey, he’s a great guy. I don’t know him on a super personal level, but I don’t judge people based on the words they say, I judge people based on their energy. We’ve all been through our rough times, but I feel that Joey has a really good heart. But when we step into the ring, I’m going to respect you within the rules you know what I mean? Other than that, I’m gonna try to take his head off. This is martial arts, I always maintain respect for my opponents outside the ring. I don’t hate anybody. I have nothing bad to say about the man.
You’ve worked for other MMA organizations in the past. In general, what’s it like working for Bellator? What makes the organization so special?
Newton: Bellator’s staff is really close. They are very upfront with me as I am with them. I have a very personable relationship with these guys. They take care of me and they’ll bend over backwards for you. As I continue to grow, my relationship with them continues to grow. I’ve never had anything bad to say about Bellator. I’ve seen how Scott conducts himself and his outlook on the sport. I only see our relationship growing and when it comes down to it, if I’m bringing in the fans and the views, they’ll want to take care of me. Scott is gonna do great. We’re going to grow together.
You have a positive outlook. Where does that come from for you?
Newton: I started off very religious and very Christian, but what I’ve come to learn is that all religion is all in the box of “man made.” I do know that there is a God. We’re all interconnected to the universe in a different way. There’s so much of a bigger picture, we shouldn’t stress so much. It’s about connecting yourself to the universe.
Are you still training out of Reign?
Newton: No, I haven’t been there in years. Now I’m back at The Body Shop. They’ve really helped me and broadened the horizons of my striking. It allowed me to take on guys like Mo. We’re all of the same mindset.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our audience?
Newton: Don’t fear, fear is what holds us back. Anything is possible. Just walk through life and know that there’s a bigger picture than ourselves.
Catch Emanuel vs. Beltran in the main card of Bellator 124 tonight on Spike TV at 9/8c.