There have been several memorable moments this year in the world of MMA and it’s likely that the most memorable moment this year came in July when Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva by knockout to win the UFC middleweight title.
However, my most memorable moment this year came back in February when Emanuel Newton landed a spinning back fist and knocked out Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal at Bellator 90 on February 21st at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.
The reason that this is my most memorable moment in MMA in 2013 is due to the fact that I was at the event and witnessed the knockout from press row. For a journalist, there are certain moments in your career that you will never forget because you were there to witness it and this is one of those moments for me.
It all started at the weigh-ins as Newton told Bellator color analyst Jimmy Smith that he was going to shock the world the next day and Lawal fired back that Newton was not Muhammed Ali.
Newton would end up shocking the world inside the Maverik Center as he landed a spinning back fist in the opening round. Prior to Newton throwing and landing the strike, the fans in attendance were clearly behind Lawal. After Newton landed the strike, the crowd erupted and Newton won over the fans in attendance and the fans watching on Spike TV.
After the referee came in to call the fight, I sat on press row and watched Lawal. I could see him asking the referee what happened and after Lawal saw the replay, he realized that he got caught.
While not many people knew who Newton was prior to this, he became a household name after he KO’ed Lawal. When Bellator cage announcer Michael Williams officially announced him as the winner, Newton did his trademark dance in the cage as Lawal clapped to congratulate him on the victory.
After the fights were over, I went to a restaurant that was just outside of the arena. In the bar area of the restaurant, fans were still talking about the knockout as the replay of Bellator 90 was being played on the televisions inside the restaurant.
Newton would end up winning the season eight light heavyweight tournament one month later and Lawal would end up winning the Summer Series tournament in July. With Bellator light heavyweight champion Attila Vegh being out of action, Newton and Lawal would have their rematch at Bellator 106 for the interim Bellator title. Newton won the rematch by split decision and is expected to face Vegh in a unification bout in early 2014.
What are your most memorable MMA moments in 2013. Leave a comment below and your responses will be read on Tuesday’s edition of “The MMA Report Live,” which will air at 2 p.m. ET on RadioInfluence.com and TheMMAReport.com.