Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal returned to action Wednesday, June 19th, for the first time since his devastating loss to Emmanuel Newton back in February. It took him all of one minute and 35 seconds to return to the win column, as he knocked out Seth Petruzelli in the main event of Bellator 96 at Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
After Lawal collided heads with Petruzelli on his first takedown attempt, referee “Big” John McCarthy briefly called a halt to the action.
After the restart, Lawal landed a takedown—something he hadn’t done his last two fights—which led to him standing up in Petruzelli’s open guard. From there, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy threw both of his opponent’s legs to the side to pass before landing the vicious over-hand right that would end the fight:
Petruzelli had talked a lot of trash leading up to the fight, saying he would spoil Bellator’s plans for Lawal to become a champion. Lawal is no stranger to running his mouth, but he didn't have much of a response to Petruzelli’s pre-fight talk, letting his hands do the talking instead.
The AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) fighter is now 2-1 inside the promotion; he needed a win to avoid further criticism after his embarrassing defeat to Newton back at Bellator 90. Many media members panned Lawal for being overconfident and cocky before getting caught with Newton’s spinning-back fist.
Viacom has invested quite a bit in Lawal, and it would’ve been even harder to promote him in Bellator as well as TNA had he lost back-to-back fights at this juncture of the newest chapter in his career.
“King Mo” will now advance to the finals of the summer series four-man tournament where he will take on Jacob Noe. Noe was also victorious at Bellator 96, by third-round TKO over Renato “Babalu” Sobral.
He may not have said much about Petruzelli, but Lawal had plenty of disdain for Noe during the post-fight press conference:
"I didn't know when the fight was going to end, but I knew I was going to stop him, and I did," Lawal said.
He went on to talk about the Noe fight:
But now it's time for me to fight Jacob Noe. Noe, No, I don't know, I don't care. I don't like him, admitted Lawal. I don't like the gym he trains at. He's fake. He talked a lot of trash behind my back. I hope he's here listening, you all can tell him this because I'm going to beat the brakes off him. I'm going to whip his ass so bad, I'm going to retire him.
The two finalists will meet on July 31 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The summer series tournament champion will earn the right to face the winner of the light heavyweight championship bout between current champ Attila Vegh and season eight tournament-winner Newton.
Those two will likely square off at some point during season nine this fall.
Michael Stets is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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