Mousasi: Why I signed with Bellator MMA
Bellator used to pick up name fighters who were no longer competitive at the highest levels of the UFC. They signed Tito Ortiz, for example, who was on a 1-7-1 run. The People’s Champ closed his career 3-1 in Bellator, with a title shot. Everyone was happy.
But now Bellator is moving up the food chain, with signings like Rory MacDonald, Ryan Bader, and most recently Gegard Mousasi. When Bellator signed Ken Shamrock he was 3-9 in the last 15 years. By contrast, Mousasi is on a five-fight win streak in the UFC.
“It was about the opportunities I will get in Bellator,” said Mousasi. “I’ll have a say in a lot of things: sponsorships, the freedom to fight elsewhere if I want to. Who wouldn’t want that?”
Mousasi bore no ill will towards his former employers.
“They made an offer,” he said. “They wanted to go up even more, but by the time that happened, they knew I was going to Bellator. The UFC treated me well. I have a good relationship with Dana White.”
“I think I accomplished a lot in the UFC. Since USADA came in, I lost only to Uriah Hall. I beat all of them. I’m a better fighter than I was a couple of years ago, and I’m still young. A lot of the middleweights are on the way out. They’re 40, and there’s drug testing.”
“The champion’s a good fighter. He’s only got one loss. Shlemenko is there, Wanderlei and Chael Sonnen. These are good fighters with big names. Rory MacDonald has talked about moving up to 185. There are plenty of fights to make.”
Mousasi said he was also drawn by the opportunity to work again with Bellator MMA boss Scott Coker, who ran Strikeforce when Mousasi held their belt. He hopes to make his Bellator debut in the Fall, vs. middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho.
“I’d like to fight the champion [first], obviously,” said Mousasi. “But I don’t know if that’s something that’s going to happen. First, I want to be successful in the middleweight division. I want to fight for [and] win the belt there and then move up.”