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Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010

Lawal Insists He’s the Underdog Heading into Bout with Cavalcante

By Kelsey Mowatt    He’s the Strikeforce Light-Heavyweight Champion; undefeated with a record of 7-0, and widely considered to be one of the sport’s fastest rising stars, but “King Mo” Lawal insists he’ll be the underdog August 21st when he fights 9-2 veteran Rafael.“Feijao” Cavalcante.  While speaking on a teleconference call yesterday, Lawal dismissed the notion he’s under any pressure heading into his first title defence, reminding reporters that the renowned wrestler’s transition into MMA remains a work in progress.
“I’ve only been fighting for two years,” said Lawal, who earned a Unanimous Decision win over the highly regarded Gegard Mousasi in April, to secure the Strikeforce belt. “There’s no pressure on me whatsoever. If there’s pressure on anybody it’s Feijao. He has the name. He’s been fighting longer and he’s been training longer. I remember watching Feijao just mashing people in the IFL. I think people look at me as having the bigger name but I don’t care. I think he’s the favorite. I’m the underdog even though I’m the champ.”
Debate as to whether or not Lawal is the favorite aside, the champion’s praise for Cavalcante is well founded. Aside from a TKO loss to Mike Kyle last June, the Nogueira trained fighter has impressed since turning pro in 2006, and has stopped Aaron Rosa and Antwain Britt in back-to-back bouts.
“Feijao knows he wants the knock out,” Lawal was quoted saying.  “He doesn’t want the submission. He trains in the ground game, but I’m training with guys in Jiu-Jitsu that are comparable. So I’m not worried at the ground at all because I’ve got good submission defense.”
“My toughest tests so far have been the training,” Lawal added while continuing to talk strategy for the August 21st fight. “The fights are the easy part. The tough part is training. As far as a plan goes or strategy, I have five of six different plans and pick one going in. If that one doesn’t work I just change it up and go to another one. With (Gegard) Mousasi he was coming up so hard that I had to go for the take down. My plan with Mousasi was to hit him a few times and make him stand and frustrate him. Then I was able to capitalize and get the take down.”
photo courtesy Esther Lin Strikeforce / Showtime
As if knowing he’ll likely be taken down at some point by the decorated wrestler, Cavalcante disagreed with Lawal’s contention, that the Brazilian’s grappling abilities pose no threat to the champion.
“I don’t think King Mo is going to want to stay on the ground with me. I will be ready for whatever style he wants. If he wants to stand up, I will stand up. If he wants to go to the ground, we will go to the ground.”
What both men likely can agree on, is that a win for either man, will say a lot about their position in the light-heavyweight division.
Strikeforce’s upcoming August 21st event will be hosted by the Toyota Center in Houston and will be broadcast on Showtime. Other bouts scheduled for the card include heavyweight Bobby Lashley vs. Chad Griggs, Daniel Cormier vs. Jason Riley, KJ Noons vs. Jorge Gurgel and Tim Kennedy vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, which will determine the promotion’s middleweight champion.
posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 1:19 pm
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