At a Tuesday press conference announcing “Strikeforce: Houston,” light heavyweight champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal promised to show new skills in his first title defense against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, which headlines the August 21 Showtime-televised event at Houston’s Toyota Center.
“Feijao likes to bang so this is going to be an exciting fight. I’m going to show you all some new things I’ve been working on,” Lawal said. “I’ll let KJ (Noons) fight a war (against Jorge Gurgel). I don’t want to fight a war. I’m going to look to finish (Feijao) as fast as I can. I don’t ever want to fight a war. I always want to dominate and fight as one-sided a fight as possible.”
Despite winning the title with a unanimous decision over Gegard Mousasi in April, Lawal (7-0) said being a champion won’t change the way he fights.
“The approach doesn’t change (because I’m champion),” Lawal explained. “Going into every fight, I feel like both a champion and a challenger because I challenge myself in training, but I’m always champion in my mind. So nothing is going to change for this fight. I watch about 10-15 fights a day. I’m always studying guys and learning their weaknesses.”
Quick quotes from other fighters on the Strikeforce: Houston fight card:
Tim Kennedy, who faces Ronaldo “Jacare” Souze for the vacant middleweight title previously held by Jake Shields:
On how his military experience prepared him mentally and physically for MMA competition: “This is just fighting. (In the cage), there’s a guy in a black shirt wearing latex gloves who’s going to protect me. It’s much different than battling a guy who’s hiding behind a rock with a cell phone, waiting to blow me up. So, this is fun. I love fighting. It’s a huge sport and I’m a huge fan of it. It’s totally different.
“I’m proud to say that I’m a Texan now. I live in Austin. I hope that all of Texas will come out to support me as I fight to win the belt.
“As your career progresses, every next fight is the most important one. After I beat Jacare and have the title, they’re going to say ‘Is this the most important fight of your career?’ I take every single fight with extreme seriousness and I take Jacare very seriously. I have great respect for him as an athlete and as a fighter. He’s very talented. It’s a tough fight. I don’t know if he’s my toughest opponent, but it’s nice to be able to train full time, so this is going to be a tough fight for him.”
Undefeated heavyweight prospect and former pro wrestler Bobby Lashley, whose opponent has yet to be determined:
“I think I’ve progressed well. The Bobby Lashley who fought my first fight is completely different from Bobby Lashley now. I’m anxious to get back out there. I had a little setback and when I finally got cleared. I called (STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott) Coker and begged him to be on this card.”
“As far as comparing myself to the other heavyweights, we’ll see real soon. I’ll have opportunities to fight those guys in the next year.”
KJ Noons, who battles fellow lightweight Jorge Gurgel:
“I’m very excited to come back to Texas. I finished high school here. My mom and my dad are here. The fans are awesome here. I did open-hand Pancrase down the street from here eight years ago before MMA was even big, so I know how it was back then so I’m super excited to be back here.
“I think I’m going to keep the fight standing and keep it exciting. Whether you want to call it a war or whatever, it’s going to be like all my other fights. I’m going to pick him apart and take him out.
“(MMA) is a lifestyle. You have to work hard and you can be the best, just like anything else. But, if you don’t work hard and you don’t respect the sport, then you won’t make it.”
Pictured: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal