Right before the new year started, Nobuyuki Sakakibara — the former MMA fighter credited for the existence of PRIDE Fighting Championships and the Japanese MMA boom — released his newest MMA promotion, Rizin Fighting Federation, to the world. The biggest news to come from the promotion’s premiere was the return of Fedor Emelianenko to competitive MMA. “The Last Emperor” was scheduled to fight MMA newcomer Jaideep Singh. The match-up proved to be heavily one-sided as Emelianenko dominated despite his three-year hiatus. In the end, Emelianenko won his return match to MMA by technically knocking out Singh within the first round.
Though Fedor Emelianenko returning to MMA was one of the biggest highlights of the show, Muhammed Lawal truly stole the show. Over the course of two days, “King Mo” competed three times in the show’s tournament in which he came out on top as its champion.
As mentioned earlier, Rizin Fighting Federation held its very first event on December 29 and 31 of 2015. Ergo, the venue was numbered “one” and “two” in respect to the two days. Besides the return of Fedor Emelianenko to competitive MMA, a tournament known as the Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix was held. Eight fighters competed via bracket to decide who would be the grand prix champion. Muhammed Lawal participated along with Jiri Prochazka, Satoshi Ishii, Vadim Nemkov, Goran Reljic, Teodoras Austuolis, Bruno Cappelozza, and Brett McDermott.
Muhammed Lawal took on Brett McDermott in the quarterfinals at Rizin Fighting Federation 1. Once the bell rang, both Lawal and McDermott took their time to size each other up but within 9:20 of the first round, McDermott’s chin was tested as he received blow after blow from Lawal (video above) after the initial hit dazed him leaving him open for punishment. In the end, McDermott went down hard, but it took his iron chin six hard shots for Lawal to fell him, as reported by MMA Mania.
By defeating Brett McDermott, Muhammed Lawal advanced in the bracket to fight Teodoras Aukstuolis in the semifinals two days later at Rizin Fighting Federation 2. Apparently, Aukstuolis was able to hold his own, taking Lawal to the very end. Still, Lawal won via unanimous decision which brought him the finals against Jiri Prochazka. According to MMA Fighting, Lawal mixed up his boxing with takedowns followed by ground and pound to soften up Prochazka. All that peppering was enough to set up for a vicious straight right that knocked out Prochazka just after the five-minute mark in the first round (video below).
Winning the Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix was most likely sweet retribution for Muhammed Lawal if one were to look back to what happened to him at Dynamite 1, the hybrid MMA and kickboxing event held by both Bellator MMA and Glory. A tournament bracket was also held at that event in which Lawal took part in. Lawal won his match against Linton Vassal in the semifinals, but due to an injury, he could not compete in the finals. Such a situation was surely a sad turn of events not just for Lawal, but also for MMA fans watching because he would have fought “Mr. Wonderful,” Phil Davis.
[Image via Muhammed Lawal’s Official Facebook Page]