Following a year-opening win over Atanas Djambazov in January, Newton changed coaches and has since undergone a vast improvement.
“I’ve definitely grown a lot within these three fights,” said Newton. “Before, I was a wrestler and a crazy kicker, but after the first fight, I changed coaches and became a better striker.
“The difference is night and day, especially with my boxing and footwork.”
Newton will look to close out the year with his fourth consecutive victory in a rematch with King Mo Lawal at Bellator’s Nov. 2 event in Long Beach, Calif.
It’s a fight that Newton told MMAWeekly.com wasn’t necessarily one he was looking for to close out this season’s light-heavyweight tournament, but one he figured was in the cards after he defeated Lawal by TKO in February.
“I had a feeling once that fight was done, they were wanting me to fight him again,” said Newton. “He’s their golden boy. He’s on the side of all the trucks and was on the commercial (for the event). That’s fine. I know he’s their golden boy and that’s what Spike and Viacom wants, so I’m going to go out there and rain all over their parade again.”
With their first fight ending just over two minutes into the first round, Newton was asked if he could take anything from such a quick win, to which he replied, “I do take something from the last fight, but I’ve got to put it behind me and make this a whole new fight.
“We all get better between fights, especially after a loss like that to the underdog when you’re an overwhelming favorite (as Lawal was). I have been in the cage with him already now and I know somewhat more what to expect with the way he moves on his feet and the range he likes to use on his punches.”
A win over Lawal on Nov. 2 would give Newton the light heavyweight tournament crown, as well as a shot at the last man to defeat him, Attila Vegh.
But for Newton, the chance to earn a shot at a belt and redemption by closing out this year on a winning streak isn’t going to cross his mind until he gets past Lawal first.
“Right now, I’m just focused on getting in the cage,” he said. “It’s not so much about the fight itself, but just getting into the cage.
“Once I step in that cage, I’ll start thinking about the fight and after I knock him out again or win the majority of rounds, I’ll start thinking of what’s next. For right now I’m just thinking about fine tuning all my weapons, sharpening my tools, and getting in that cage and going to work.”
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