Emanuel Newton started believing that he was capable of achieving great things in MMA after knocking out King Mo

Emanuel Newton initially made his debut in Bellator in the Summer of 2012, but it was not until February 21, 2012 that “The Hardcore Kid” became a known fighter in mixed martial arts.

Daniel Dahlback - The MMA Report
Daniel Dahlback – The MMA Report

On that evening in Utah, Newton was in the co-main event of the fight card as he was facing Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the semifinals of the season eight light heavyweight tournament.

Newton was over an eight to one underdog in the fight and nearly all of the crowd in attendance at the Maverik Center in West Valley Center, Utah were rooting for Lawal to get the victory and move into the tournament final.

However, Newton landed a spinning back fist around the 2:30 mark of the opening round and shocked all of the fans in attendance, along with all of the fans watching on Spike TV. While Newton always believe he could compete, it was not until after the victory over Lawal that he started believing that he could do tremendous things inside the cage.

“I really started believing that I was capable of achieving great things in this sport after I knocked Mo out,” Newton said. “I always had faith in myself and my ability to provide for my family. I always knew I was tough and I could compete. But after I knocked Mo out I started realizing that my style makes me a bad matchup for everyone in my division. I’m able to do stuff that nobody else does. Now I know I’m meant to be a champion, and I’m meant to stay a champion.”

Following the victory over Lawal, he would defeat Mikhail Zayats in the tournament final to secure his title shot in the 205 pound division in Bellator. He would end up having a rematch against Lawal for the interim title and defeated Lawal by decision to win the interim title. Just months after that victory, he would have a unification title bout against Attila Vegh and he would win the unified title with a split decision win.

“I don’t think I believed I was capable of becoming a champion earlier in my career because it just wasn’t time for me to believe yet,” Newton said. “I was prideful and cocky and that would’ve led to me making mistakes. The confidence came at the right time.”

While Newton is the Bellator light heavyweight champion, he is not the top name in the division. If you were to go into a sports bar, most people likely will not know who Newton is, but would know the names of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz. While this may bother most people, it does not bother Newton.

“I don’t really care that guys like Tito and Rampage have bigger names than me right now,” Newton said. “I’m just going to keep winning and everything will fall into place. I’m not one of these guys that cries about not having something. I’m not worried about it. When the time is right everything is going to happen the way it should. I’m still going to be standing on top of that mountain, regardless of how long it takes.”

“Rampage and Tito are getting older so they don’t have a lot of time left to fight. Beating one of them would be great because they’re both legends but there will always be those fans that will say they were past their prime. If I have to fight either of those guys, I’ll fight them when the time is right. I just know I have to go out there in this Joey Beltran fight and not just beat him, but finish him in devastating fashion.”

Tomorrow night will mark the first time that Newton defends the unified light heavyweight title as he is challenged by Joey Beltran, who came back to Bellator last year and is coming off a submission victory against Vladimir Matyushenko.

“I think Joey Beltran is a great fight for me because he’s a brawler,” Newton said. “He likes to get in there, come forward and mix it up. That’s great. That works perfectly with my style. I always have my most spectacular performances against guys that like to push the fight.”

“I really believe I’m better than Joey everywhere. My wrestling is better, my striking is better and I’m more experienced. I’m not taking anything away from him but I feel like I’m a bad matchup for him. I know he’s really tough and he’s been training hard. This is a huge opportunity for him. I’m sure he’s going to push the pace and he’s going to be on point, but so am I, and I’m going to be better that night. I’m not giving up this boat for anybody.

Newton has the opportunity to do something that the previous unified Bellator light heavyweight champions have never accomplished, successfully defend the title. While some fighters like to say that they vision their hand being raised in victory, Newton takes it to another level that he sees a victory coming by stoppage.

“I see myself finishing Joey Beltran in this fight. I plan on having the type of performance that continues to show that I’m one of the best in the world. As a world champion I have to make a statement that I’m the best every time I step inside the cage. I need to have the type of performances that put fear in the hearts of my future opponents.”