Steve Cofield

Awful takedown defense costs Mousasi his belt

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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Muhammed Lawal can wrestle and tonight it was more than enough against a guy who many thought was top five at light heavyweight. "King Mo" set the tone early by taking Mousasi down anytime he wanted. Mousasi seemed willing to fight from his back but by the middle of the third round, Lawal's activity on the ground broke the Dutch-Armenian's spirit. Lawal took a unanimous decision, 49-45 on all cards, to grab the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.

Lawal, 29, showed some gumption. He appeared winded after just one round and was outstruck 52-11 in the second round. But he stuck to his strength in the final three rounds and put Mousasi on his back for much of the next 15 minutes.

Mousasi (28-3-1) was thought by some to be the best or second best fighter in the world not fighting in the UFC. On this night, he barely looked like a top 10 fighter at 205 or 185. It's still a huge victory for King Mo, in just his seventh professional MMA fight, he beat a guy who destroyed good fighters like Ronaldo Souza, Rameau Thierry Sokoujdou, Renato Sobral, Melvin Manhoef and Denis Kang.

Lawal won the first round with several takedowns controlling things from the top but it also looked like he completely gassed himself. At the end of the round, he had difficulty just making back to his corner. Maybe Mousasi was playing possum but in the final three rounds, Mousasi lacked movement and wasn't fighting with intensity. In all, Lawal scored nine takedowns in 12 tries. Mousasi landed many more shots (177-of-250) but most of them were pitter, pat from the bottom. Mousasi also lost a point in the final round by when he landed an illegal kick to the grounded Lawal. Even when Mousasi got to his feet for one final run at a knockout with 1:24 left in the fight, he threw a few wild shots and allowed Lawal to double-leg him to the mat one final time.

The crowd in Nashville booed Lawal in the postfight. Hard to figure out why, it was the correct decision.

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