The announcement of the eight-man Bellator light heavyweight Grand Prix had mixed martial arts fans from across the spectrum intrigued. The brackets feature a diverse field of former Ultimate Fighting Championship stars and current or former Bellator champions. It also almost included current Bellator middleweight titleholder Gegard Mousasi.
Gegard Mousasi was asked to be in the Bellator light heavyweight GP
Mousasi returns to action on August 13, to defend the title he recently regained in October at Bellator 250. While he has been at the top of the 185-pound mountain since joining the promotion in 2017, the Dutch talent has a history of competing in higher weight classes. Especially, at 205-pounds.
In a new interview, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion revealed that Bellator requested he compete in their latest Grand Prix offering. However, Mousasi, 36, chose to decline the invite for several reasons, including the disadvantages he believes he would have at that weight.
"They asked me to fight in the light heavyweight tournament. But first of all, there were too [many] advantages to my opponents. I would have to fight a guy who's 20 pounds heavier than me," Mousasi told ">MMAJunkie Radio. Even if I wanted, I had an injury, some personal issues, [and] I wouldn't have made the fight."
"The Dreamcatcher" made a name for himself competing against much larger foes in Japan for combat sports promotions like K1 and DREAM. The former DREAM titlist even competed against former UFC interim-heavyweight title contender Mark Hunt in 2009. A man who often checks in around the 265 heavyweight limits. Mousasi was asked about his adventures in Japan and explained why the risk-reward juice was worth the squeeze back then but not now.
"Back then I didn't mind fighting anybody. I fought two times in K1 at heavyweight. They gave me Japanese fighters. They wanted the Japanese fighters, of course, to win. But I won," Mousasi said with a laugh. "Back then I would fight anybody because I wanted to get paid. Nowadays I want to fight [where] I don't have to risk everything anymore. Because I think I took my risks when I was younger.
Although he didn't take part in the Bellator light heavyweight Grand Prix, he still has his eyes set on an eventual return to the 205-pound division. With at least seven fights left on his deal, he sees a jump up in weight coming after he finishes some business first at middleweight.
"Middleweight is where I like to stay, but light heavyweight is in the future. I have to beat John Salter, maybe another middleweight and [then] we go up to light heavyweight," he said.
Mousasi will defend his belt against Salter in the main event of Bellator 264 on Friday night, inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main card for the event begins at 9 pm ET and will air exclusively on Showtime.