Gegard Mousasi is a firmly entrenched member of the Bellator roster these days, but that doesn’t stop him from keeping tabs on his former home in the UFC middleweight division.
Mousasi (46-7-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), a former Bellator champion, will look to regain the promotion’s 185-pound title when he meets Douglas Lima for the vacant strap at Bellator 242 on May 9 in San Jose, Calif. A win would once again put Mousasi in the discussion of being the best fighter in his weight class, and he’s quite familiar with being part of that conversation over his storied career.
Someone who wasn’t on the radar at all when Mousasi parted ways with the UFC in mid-2017 was Israel Adesanya (19-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC). The current UFC champ hadn’t even made his debut the last time Mousasi fought for the promotion, and “The Dreamcatcher” said he’s been impressed with the rise.
“He’s very talented,” Mousasi told MMA Junkie. “I wasn’t expecting him to have good takedown defense and be so tough. I didn’t really know the guy before, but he rose up really fast. UFC, of course, helped him with bringing him up with good fights and good matchups.”
Mousasi has a history of criticizing the UFC for picking and choosing the fighters it supports and pushes to the top. He thought he never really got that, and it was part of the reason he chose to move to Bellator despite a five-fight winning streak in the UFC that included wins over names like Chris Weidman, Uriah Hall, Vitor Belfort and Thiago Santos.
Although Adesanya was put on the fast track, he also had to win the fights in order to earn and maintain status as UFC middleweight champ. For that, Mousasi gives “The Last Stylebender” credit.
“He did it,” Mousasi said. “He popped a very tough (Robert) Whittaker (to win the title). He’s very deserving of where he’s at, to be honest.”
Like any other Bellator vs. UFC matchup, discussion about crossover fights is fiction. The UFC has shown no willingness to promote with other MMA organization, so the idea of a Mousasi vs. Adesanya fight likely will remain fantasy.
If it did happen, though, Mousasi said he’s certain he could win.
“He has really good standup,” Mousasi said. “He has good distance and a good feeling of the fight. But of course I think I can win.”
Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/03/bellator-gegard-mousasi-praise-very-talented-israel-adesanya-ufc-champ/