One of the greatest, and certainly one of the most underappreciated mixed martial arts fighters we’ve ever had in the sport, Gegard Mousasi, is finally set for the first defense of his Bellator middleweight championship.
Of course, this is his second reign with this particular title, as he won it in his vacant title fight with (former) multi-time Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima.
After leaving the UFC, Mousasi defeated former Bellator & M-1 Global middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko via unanimous decision in his Bellator debut, before finishing off four-time Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho to claim the title in 2018.
Mousasi defended it against another (former) Bellator welterweight champion, this time Rory MacDonald, who he also finished quite handily. Next came his majority decision defeat to Rafael Lovato Jr, and as we know, Lovato was forced to retire afterwards, leaving the belt up for grabs.
Mousasi avenged his first UFC defeat in the meantime to Lyoto Machida, before defeating Lima in his last fight.
Now, over half a year later, we finally get word of what’s next for Mousasi, and it’s No. 1 ranked John Salter.
This is to go down at Bellator 264 on August 13, 2021 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
This is the fight we’ve all been calling for; either this one, or Anatoly Tokov, who’s 29-2 as a professional with 23 finishes, including a 5-0 run in Bellator thus far.
However, Salter is a proven finisher as well, as is the champion himself.
People have been waiting for Salter’s title shot for a hot minute now, and he would’ve gotten it, had he defeated Lovato himself before Lovato challenged Mousasi for the belt.
Salter holds an 8-1 record with the promotion, including seven finishes to his credit. He’s a very high level 2nd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and even boasts an ADCC North American gold medal to add to his resume.
Following that defeat to Lovato in 2018, Salter has won his last three straight, picking up submission victories in two of those performances, one of which came over Chidi Njokuani, improving his record to 18-4 (17 finishes).
Mousasi comes in with a record of 47-7-2 (38 finishes), having avenged three of his last four defeats. The only one he couldn’t avenge is Lovato for obvious reasons, but if he could’ve gotten that fight, he probably would’ve won it.
History shows, sometimes Gegard Mousasi lacks motivation. He’s been doing this as a career for half of his life at this point, being 35 years old.
Surprisingly, he was just 27 when he came over to the UFC with a record of 33-3-2, he’s been at this a long, long time. Not to mention, he’s a black belt in Judo, he’s 8-0 in kickboxing, and 12-1 as an amateur boxer, where he won a national championship in The Netherlands.
That’s a combined combat sports record of 67-8-2, which is just astounding.
Though Salter’s about five months older than Mousasi, he’s so much younger in fight years. That could aid him very well in this fight, especially if Mousasi doesn’t show up. He should, he has more often than not, but there have been two or three times where he just didn’t.
On the contrary, Mousasi also won titles in Cage Warriors, DREAM, and Strikeforce. The Cage Warriors belt he won at 185 lbs, he was the DREAM champ-champ (185 & 205), and he won the Strikeforce title at 205 lbs.
How long before Gegard Mousasi goes for the Bellator light-heavyweight throne?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.