Despite entering the biggest scrap of his career a heavy 3-to-1 underdog, Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante discovered a way to dethrone Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal and capture the light heavyweight crown at “Strikeforce: Houston” on Saturday night.
King Mo is a former All-American collegiate wrestler who used his superior ground game to steamroll the studly Gegard Mousasi in his last outing to capture the title, so even an infant could read his gameplan with braille.
Despite eating a big slam in the opening ticks, Feijao managed to defend several of the former champion’s takedown attempts throughout their match-up. In the few instances he was able to drag the Brazilian to the canvas, the stints were brief and far from devastating.
“I tried to stand in the first and 2ndRound, [make it] a stand-up war to make him tired,” stated the giddiest 205-pounder inside the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. “I was very prepared.
“I was asked before [the fight], ‘What’s the key to winning this fight?’ Training, training, training. Mo is a complete fighter. He’s got good stand-up, he’s good on the ground. We prepared so hard for this fight. This is my dream.”
Thanks to the help of his Team Black House amigos, which include a couple of the world’s best marksmen in Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, Feijao used his much improved striking to set up a lethal 3rdRound flurry that included a few brutal knees, some rights, some lefts and a million-and-a-half unanswered elbows to the side of King Mo’s dome.
Referee “Big John” McCarthy finally put an end to the mauling at the 1:14 mark in the third stanza, causing the newly crowned champ to immediately drop to his knees and unload a river of joyful tears.
“I’ve always wanted to be here and today I am here,” he humbly said. “This, of course, is not about me. It’s about my coaches, my team – Team Nogueira, my training partners. They give me support.”