Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal always believed that he had a win over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, but he didn't have the official scorecards to prove it. He now has an official victory as he defeated the former UFC star by unanimous decision in the main event at Bellator 175.
MMAjunkie tweeted out the scores:
Bellator 175 results: Muhammed Lawal def. Quinton Jackson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) https://t.co/Rc8LiGETMO2017-4-1 03:47:08
The heavyweight version of Rampage got off to a slow start. The 253-pound Jackson conceded the center and allowed Lawal to back him into the cage where the former collegiate wrestler worked him down to the mat.
Ben Fowlkes of MMAjunkie noted the difference between the bloated Rampage in this fight and the light heavyweight incarnation of the former champion:
Ben Fowlkes @benfowlkesMMA
The contrast between the Rampage pictured on his sponsor banner and the Rampage standing in the cage is like a diet pill ad in reverse.2017-4-1 03:27:11
Jackson was ultimately able to free himself for long enough to climb along the fence, but it only allowed King Mo to also score plenty of points from the clinch along the cage.
Bloody Elbow recapped the round for King Mo:
Bloody Elbow @BloodyElbow
Lawal controlling Jackson all through the round. Jackson looking like he trained super hard at the TwitchFC gym. #41pounds #Bellator1752017-4-1 03:33:45
Just when it looked like Jackson was simply too out of shape to compete against King Mo, he landed a sharp left hook that turned back time and put King Mo down. From there Jackson jumped into an advantageous position and scored from top position.
Josh Gross of the Guardian set the scene going into the third and final round:
Josh Gross @yay_yee
R1 for Rampage was like the calamari. All fried dough, no substance. R2 was like the mozzarella sticks. Some solid action for Page. 19-19.2017-4-1 03:40:19
With clear winners in Round 1 and 2, it all came down to Round 3. While Jackson scored a key takedown, it was King Mo who consistently landed the better striking as he had Rampage back to the fence again.
MMAFighting explained its reasoning for giving the round to King Mo:
Mo 10-9 in the third. But it was close. Of course. Thought Mo landed the better shots in the third. I have him 29-28. #Bellator1752017-4-1 03:45:42
After the bout, it was announced that King Mo will now see Ryan Bader at Madison Square Garden on June 24 at Bellator 180:
Josh Gross @yay_yee
Ryan Bader vs. King Mo on the Spike portion of Bellator's NYC card. Interesting fight.2017-4-1 03:50:49
The win has to come as a huge sigh of relief for King Mo. There's some genuine bad blood between these two fighters, and Lawal dropped a controversial decision in his first bout with Jackson at Bellator 120 in 2014.
After buildup in which Jackson talked of knocking out King Mo, the two engaged in a fight that offered little excitement and Jackson won on the cards.
However, only one of 13 media members scoring the fight gave the bout to Jackson. One called the fight a draw while the other 11 all had Lawal winning the fight, per MMA Decisions.
Understandably, Lawal thought it was pretty clear he won the first fight.
"For what? Cause really, I won the first fight, there shouldn’t be a rematch," King Mo said in regards to a potential third fight, per Jason Nawara of Uproxx. "But he asked for one, so I gave it to him. That first fight, I thought I won. Most people thought I won. He thought I won. Look at his reaction. He came and asked for a rematch."
Now that he has an official win over Rampage, there's some serious vindication in the rivalry.
What this means for King Mo will be interesting going forward, but even more interesting is where Jackson will go from here.
Bellator has proven to be an accommodating home for former UFC veterans, and with Ryan Bader, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva recently joining the ranks of the organization, an aging Rampage Jackson seems like a good fit moving forward.
There could be an issue with the 38-year-old that would have the fighter awkwardly returning to the UFC again, per Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting:
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
Correct. That's according to both Rampage and Coker. UFC didn't respond when I asked for comment. He signed a deal w/ them at the end of '14 https://t.co/ARZKFGhnsn2017-3-31 20:53:21
That would be a bummer for the former UFC champion. Not only has Bellator afforded him the flexibility to fight at heavyweight, but he has momentum with a 4-1 record in the organization.
Then again, Rampage sounds like a man who is about ready to walk away from the sport lately. Jackson mused about a life outside of MMA and missing his family in the lead up to this fight.
"I would have to honestly say that my biggest regret is even starting this sport," Jackson said, per ESPN. "I think I would've lived a different life if I would've stayed home in Memphis and worked at the family business. I'd be closer to my family and growing old with them instead of living out at California."
Jackson later walked those statements back. He stated that his words were taken negatively and reiterated the love for his fans, per Shaun Al-Shatti of MMAFighting.
While Jackson might not have meant that he doesn't still love the sport, one has to wonder how much longer this heavyweight version of Rampage wants to hang around.
With a bitter loss over one of his biggest rivals and a possible contract issue keeping him from staying with his current organization, the former champ might find this is the perfect time for an exit.