265 lbs: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Mike Whitehead
In a big Heavyweight matchup, undefeated phenom “King Mo” Lawal will make his United States MMA debut against his stiffest challenge to date, tough veteran Mike Whitehead. Both men have wrestling bases and good standup, but Lawal is inexperienced and dynamic while Whitehead is cagy and experienced, so this is a very interesting stylistic matchup.
Mike Whitehead, who was an early favorite to win his season of The Ultimate Fighter, failed to live up to expectations and washed out of the UFC fairly quickly. He didn’t let it get him down, though, and followed his disappointing stint with a ridiculous 15-1 run, the only loss coming to Renato “Babalu” Sobral. A solid wrestler who trains out of the highly-respected Xtreme Couture camp, Whitehead also has solid if somewhat slow boxing and a very underrated submission game, so he has a complete skill set and a wealth of experience that helped to hone it.
Lawal, an undefeated prospect who gained notoriety with a series of destructions in Sengoku, is an exciting and dynamic fighter, in and out of the ring. A larger than life personality, Lawal brings a larger than life offense to the ring to match. While he is not a large heayweight at all, and would probably be more natural at 205 pounds, Lawal’s athleticism and explosiveness are a match for anyone in the world, at any weight. While he is still raw and has a lot of improving to do, he is ridiculously powerful, has very heavy hands, and a dominant wrestling base that ties his whole game together.
There is no question that Mike Whitehead is the more complete fighter. He lacks some of Lawal’s explosiveness and dynamism, but he has a more well-developed skill set and a massive experience advantage over his opponent. That said, Lawal is still going to be too much for him. Lawal has more potential to finish the fight standing by far, and probably has superior wrestling which will help him dictate the pace. I expect him to physically overwhelm Whitehead, both with strikes and wrestling, and earn the T/KO midway through the fight.
Fight Prediction: King Mo via first round T/KO.