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Sports Illustrated Notebook: Gegard Mousasi calls chances of an Israel Adesanya bout 'slim to none'

The middleweight champ is steamrolling through Bellator and discussed the possibility of a bout against the UFC middleweight champ.
gegard-mousasi

Gegard Mousasi headlines the upcoming Bellator 282 card on June 24, defending his middleweight title against Johnny Eblen.

This will mark Mousasi's second fight of the year, and he plans to have a third bout—potentially for the light heavyweight title—before the end of the year.

"That's the plan, move up in weight class and grab the light heavyweight belt," Mousasi says. "Corey Anderson and (Vadim) Nemkov have to fight each other again before that happens."

Nemkov defended the light heavyweight title against Anderson last April, but the fight ended in a no-contest after an accidental butting of heads. Anderson had dominated Nemkov and was a lock to win until the fight was stopped with three seconds remaining in the third round, leading to an official ruling of a no-decision instead of a victory for Anderson. As soon as the fight ended, Bellator president Scott Coker announced there would be a rematch.

"If that fight would have produced a winner, I would have fought that guy for the title," Mousasi says. "But it's hard to know when it could be for me because I don't know when they'll have their rematch."

Mousasi (49-7-2 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) has four more fights on his Bellator contract. He is on pace to enter free agency in 2024 if he has three more fights next year.

"Ideally, I'd like to fight five times in a year," Mousasi says. "I'm healthy, so I need to take advantage of that."

Mousasi is also steamrolling through Bellator's middleweight division. Since dropping the belt in June 2019 to Rafael Lovato Jr., Mousasi has captured four straight wins and regained the title in the process. Most recently, he dominated Austin Vanderford in February in a first-round TKO, and he now plans to do the same at Bellator 282 to Eblen.

"Maybe I'm too confident, but I think he's in for a world of hurt," Mousasi says. "After that, I don't know what else is planned for me. Yoel Romero, I heard he's busy. Fabian (Edwards)? (Anatoly) Tokov? I don't know. But I want to be active.

"I'm coming to fight, and then we'll see what's next. I'm not really thinking beyond this fight."

The 36-year-old Mousasi is a complete mixed martial artist. He revealed his belief that he has another three elite years remaining in his career if he continues to perform at this level. And even though the fight is highly unlikely to occur, at least until 2024 at the earliest, Mousasi was willing to discuss the possibility of a bout against UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

"I keep getting asked about that fight, and I would love to fight Israel," Mousasi says. "But I still have four more fights on my Bellator contract, and Scott (Coker) has been good to me. The chances of it happening are slim to none."

For now, a bout against Adesanya will remain nothing more than imagination and speculation. Mousasi's entire focus is on his next title defense, where he can continue to cement his status with a convincing victory.

"Even though the name of my opponent is not very known, it will look good if I take care of him quickly," Mousasi says. "I want a dominant win and a finish."

UFC titles on line in Singapore

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UFC 275 takes place this Saturday, headlined by two title bouts.

In the main event, Glover Teixeira makes his first UFC light heavyweight title defense, quite a feat for a 42-year-old who has spent two decades in the cage. Yet all signs point to this miraculous title reign ending quickly.

Teixeira's opponent is Jiri Prochazka, a hungry fighter who possesses outrageous power and skill on his feet that should end this bout in a knockout.

Teixeira (33-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC) is not going to become the face of the light heavyweight division. His title win last October against Jan Błachowicz served as a genuinely great moment for the sport, and it will forever exist at the front of his career accolades. But the 29-year-old Prochazka is just beginning to build his own highlight reel.

Prochazka (28-3-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) looked spectacular in his two UFC bouts, which were both knockout victories. He hasn't lost a fight since December of 2015, a streak that should extend well beyond this Saturday. In only two UFC bouts, he is 2-for-2 in "Performance of the Night" honors – and now can add the UFC light heavyweight title to his growing list of accomplishments.

Another fight with major consequences is the co-main event, which is women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko putting her title on the line against Taila Santos.

This fight is monumental for Shevchenko (22-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC). Santos (19-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is not a big draw, or, for that matter, much of a threat. She has a lot of nice wins but against no one even near the quality of Shevchenko. A win will practically clear out the majority of opponents in the top 10 of the flyweight division, allowing Shevchenko to set her sights on the women's bantamweight title.

The reigning bantamweight champ is Julianna Peña, who Shevchenko already defeated once. Peña has an upcoming rematch with Amanda Nunes, a fighter that has twice defeated Shevchenko by decision.

If Shevchenko is able to defeat Peña again, and/or finally overcome Amanda Nunes, then she will bolster an already impressive resume and take her place as the top female fighter in the world.

Martinez helped pull in a large viewership for Combate Global

Combate Global has put together some exciting cards on Univision, and its show on May 29 drew an outstanding rating.

Airing just before midnight ET, that night's Combate Global card averaged 884,000 P2+ viewers, the second-largest television audience in company history. Headlined by David Martinez defeating Arturo Vergara, those numbers at that hour are quite an accomplishment.

Campbell McClaren, who is Combate Global CEO, shared his enthusiasm over the success of that night's broadcast.

"Combate Global continues to smash TV ratings, and is creating a massive new audience for MMA," McClaren said. "Especially with fighters like David 'The Black Spartan' Martinez, one of the best new fighters in the sport."

Later tonight, Combate Global will air on Univision at midnight ET and feature a main event of two tough welterweights, pitting Leo Rodriguez against Marcus Edwards. The fight was originally scheduled to be Edwards squaring off against Marcos Lloreda, but Lloreda was forced to withdraw due to COVID-19 protocols – and Rodriguez is taking the fight on only three days' notice.

This story first published at SI.com/MMA.