Emanuel Newton holds the Bellator interim light heavyweight championship belt, but he feels he is already the true king heading in to his March 21 Bellator 113 title-unifaction bout with Attila Vegh.
His reasoning is simple. Facing the Bellator light heavyweight champion Vegh at Bellator 72 in June 2012, Newton dropped a split decision, but he feels certain that he won.
He's also certain that Vegh knows the win went to the wrong man.
"Even after the fight, he [Vegh] came up to me—and he doesn't really speak English—but he came up to me and he put his hand on my shoulder and he looked at me like, 'Man, the judges were wrong,'" Newton told Bleacher Report. "He kind of gave me that look, and I just said, 'It's fine, man.'"
While the loss stung initially for Newton, he feels confident that he has made the necessary adjustments heading in to the rematch. Vegh, meanwhile, remains the same fighter in Newton's eyes.
"I was a different fighter then, night and day. I was at a different camp, I was training a different way, I didn't evolve my style yet, and I still beat Attila," Newton said. "I think he still has the same camp, I think he's still doing the same stuff. I'm sure he's grown, too, but I don't think he's grown half as much as I have."
Since the controversial loss to Vegh, Newton is 4-0 inside the Bellator cage, a streak which includes two dominant wins over Bellator standout Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal.
A prolific trash talker who commands the audience's attention—for better or for worse—King Mo represents one of Bellator's most recognizable stars and the brash fighter is currently booked for a showdown against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament finals May 17 in Memphis.
If Newton takes care of business against Vegh and Lawal does the same against Rampage, a trilogy will be born, and Newton said that fans can expect the same outcome as the first two fights should that take place.
"I think that if me and Mo were to fight again I would definitely have a huge advantage over him, mentally and physically," Newton said. "I think Mo is always going to be a top-tier fighter, but I don't see him being the champion again. I don't think he's got it in him anymore. I think I took that away from him."
Meanwhile, a fight with Rampage pleases Newton. Despite sharing a close bond with the former UFC light heavyweight champion, Newton said that he looks forward to this potential bout for himself and for Bellator.
"I think it [a fight with Rampage] is a better fight, a fight the fans want to see," Newton said. "I think it'd be better for both of our careers, and I think it'd be better for Bellator."
When he thinks about the tournament final between King Mo and Rampage, Newton sees a clear winner. There is no King Mo trilogy in the future he sees.
"I definitely favor Rampage in the fight against Mo because Rampage's takedown defense is really good," Newton said. "I just see Mo not being able to take him down and trying to get into a brawling war with Rampage, and that's the last thing you want to do with 'Page."
Despite the attention on both King Mo and Rampage, Newton's first order of business involves a rematch with Vegh Friday evening at the Kansas Star Arena.
He's ready to rise to the occasion. He's ready to become a star and steal some of the spotlight from his fellow light heavyweights.
"It's my time to shine, and it's my time to be the best in the world," Newton said. "I'm going to show that Friday night."
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