Gegard Mousasi’s Own Path to Greatness Starts at Bellator 185
It’s all about respect for Gegard Mousasi, who makes his Bellator debut tonight at Bellator 185
As Bellator continues to grow, the company understands the value of making their fighters happy. They see potential employees out there and attempt to grab them in order to thrive, on both sides. To have a relationship like that is one of the key reasons Gegard Mousasi signed with the promotion instead of staying with the UFC. He is looking to show that he is the real deal today (October 20th) at Bellator 185. Tonight could be a night that Bellator made a decision they won’t regret.
Mousasi (42-6-2) will face off against Alexander Shlemenko in his Bellator debut. A former Bellator Middleweight Champion, Shlemenko (56-9 (1)) will be a big test for Gegard, who will look to start his path towards the championship the Russian lost at Bellator 126.
It’s certainly been an interesting journey for Mousasi, who won five fights in a row under the UFC banner before picking a new home. His last victory was a controversial one over Long Island’s Chris Weidman at UFC 210 in Buffalo. While a disqualification was in question, Mousasi was called a winner via TKO. That was his third win via TKO, which could have made him a contending favorite. He clearly didn’t see himself as close as others though, so he moved on.
Being friends with Bellator President Scott Coker from his days in Strikeforce was a factor in the move. Trusting your boss is key in a successful business like MMA, and Gegard believes he has that with Coker. Signing a six-fight deal with Bellator MMA is his way of looking to change the narrative. That is something he never thought he’d be able to do in the UFC with stars like Conor McGregor in it. Speaking with MMA Junkie, Gegard discussed his reasons for moving to Bellator, citing better opportunities and less politics.
“I feel Bellator has space to grow, not only with me, but also as a company. I was a small fish in the UFC. I’m a big fish in Bellator. That’s why I want to do my part to grow with Bellator. There’s a connection that I don’t have with UFC. It’s a company, like a factory. With Bellator, it’s more that I’m part of the family, and I’m doing the best I can to grow with the family.”
Whether a win against Shlemenko results in title opportunities remains up in the air. It could however impress the higher ups enough to put him in consideration.
Mousasi’s goal is simple. He wants to move up in the rankings fast in order to reach that championship fight he has craved for. Rafael Carvalho is the current Bellator Middleweight Champion, and he’s scheduled to defend his title against Alessio Sakara at Bellator 190. That event is in December, and Mousasi is eying the winner of the bout. There may be a chance Gegard will have to face one more opponent to prove himself. Maybe he will face top five contender John Salter, who will battle Anatoly Tokov at Bellator 188 in November. While it might not be ideal for Mousasi, that may be the one aspect of the new company he can’t get by so easily.
Tonight begins a new chapter for Gegard Mousasi. Will he rise above the challenge or fall flat on his face via KO? Given his spot on the card, momentum looks to be on his side.
Bellator 185 takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Heather Hardy will also be on the card, looking for her second career MMA victory against Kristina Williams. The Bellator 185 main card airs live on Spike with the prelims available on Spike.com.