Remember when the rematch between Muhammed Lawal and Emanuel Newton was announced by Bellator? Here’s the exact quote from their official press release on August 15th:
King Mo will once again meet Emanuel Newton, this time for the interim Bellator Light Heavyweight Title. With reigning Light Heavyweight Champion Attila Vegh sidelined with a shoulder injury, Mo and Newton will now square off for a shot at the title.
King Mo won the four-man “Summer Series” tournament by dominating Seth Petruzelli and Jacob Noe, thus found himself in a title shot position a mere months after Newton knocked him out with a spinning backfist in the regular eight-man tournament. Aside from Quinton Jackson and Tito Ortiz, King Mo is arguably Bellator’s biggest Zuffa signing and they’ve heavily backed him from day one.
Vegh, who dethroned Christian M’Pumbu to capture the LHW title, was scheduled to face Newton, but as the press release states, the Slovakian was out with an injury, thus the interim title was introduced.
There’s a twist to this story, and it’s a great one for those who were cynical about the timing of this news and the decision to create an interim championship fight not even 6 months after Vegh won the title. In an interview with Tomasz Marciniak of MMARocks.pl, Vegh revealed that he’s not injured at all:
“It’s about business on Bellator’s side. People want to see the rematch between King Mo and Newton. That’s why my fight is postponed to January and I’ll face the winner of the November’s fight. I’m not injured, I’m perfectly fine.
It may be caused by the fact that I’m a foreign fighter, I’m not an American. American people want to see their fighters, but I want give them my belt for free.”
Wojslaw Rysiewski (also of MMARocks) provided the translation. There’s also a link to the full video (in Polish/Slovakian) here.
This certainly is a horrible look for Bellator. If they made up an injury for Vegh then there is absolutely no need to create an interim title in place of a supposedly healthy fighter. It also reeks of desperation and implies that they are so desperate for King Mo to be in a title fight that they are fabricating a story about their current champion just to hasten a potential Lawal vs. Vegh “title unification bout”. In turn, it basically robs Newton of his rightful shot at the champion and he’s effectively been forced to beat King Mo twice just to fight the actual champion.
I would imagine there is more to this story so stay tuned as Bloody Elbow provides more updates as they become available. Bloody Elbow has contacted Bellator for an official statement but have not yet received a response.
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