Gegard Moussi placed on a superb present 4 months in the past in Dublin. That it’s not a efficiency of epic size makes it all of the extra magnificent. The Bellator MMA middleweight champion wanted lower than a minute and a half to beat an undefeated opponent within the Bellator 275 principal occasion.
Austin Vanderford, in recognition of his credit score (and eventual downfall), attacked that evening at 3Arena, closing the hole from the beginning and delivering huge punches. However Mousasi had the solutions to every thing thrown at him, and people solutions nearly instantly overwhelmed Vanderford. Nonetheless, as lightning quick because the combat approached the 1:25 TKO finish of Spherical 1, Mousasi was in no hurry. Efficient composure was the hallmark of the 36-year-old Dutchman’s two-decade profession and as soon as once more that advantage gained him over in a single day.
It additionally offers the low-scoring champion a hearty evaluation from one of many sport’s hottest figures.
“[Mousasi] is essentially the most underrated fighter in MMA proper now”, retired former UFC light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov tweeted that night.
Mousasi (49-7-2) has an opportunity to play to the complete extent of the title when he covers Bellator 282 on the Mohegan Solar Enviornment in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Friday (9pm ET on Showtime, opening at 6pm) afternoon on the Bellator YouTube web page). The one who challenged him this time was one other undefeated heavyweight boxer, Johnny EblenVanderford followers work out on the American High Staff health club in South Florida.
Mousasi is on a 4-fight profitable streak and has gained 12 of his previous 13 fights, extending his stint within the UFC. And for a few of the boxers who confronted him in that run, Nurmagomedov’s endorsement holds true.
“Nobody believes in what he does, as a result of his approach is so strange, nothing flashy,” mentioned the previous UFC gentle heavyweight champion. Lyoto Machida, who has confronted Mousasi twice, profitable a unanimous determination in a UFC combat in 2014 and shedding a break up judgment in 2019 within the Bellator cage. “Nevertheless it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t kick as excessive as others, or he doesn’t leap his knees. It doesn’t matter. The necessary factor is that he performs nicely in every single place, all-round and really calm. can combat anybody and sure fought everybody, and he gained. “
Mousasi owns victory in opposition to an extended record of champion stage fighters, from Dan Henderson arrive Vitor Belfort, Chris Weidman arrive Rory MacDonaldMachida is coming Douglas Lima. Mousasi is in his second reign at Bellator and earlier than that was a champion in three different preventing organizations, together with Strikeforce.
“He ought to positively be on the record of the very best boxers to ever dwell,” mentioned Lima, a former Bellator weightlifter who misplaced to Mousasi in 2020 in a 185-pound title combat. “He’s been preventing the highest competitions all his life. He hasn’t crushed Mark Hunt at heavyweight, one thing like that? “
Sure, he did. Competing in opposition to the 265-pound “Tremendous Samoan” in an appropriately named 2009 event through the Dream promotion, the Tremendous Hulk Grand Prix, Mousasi excelled within the first spherical.
However the record of awards is solely that for Mousasi – an inventory. It’s not necessary to him.
“I don’t care — in regards to the belt,” Mousasi mentioned after defending the title in February. “I got here right here to earn a living.”
The narrow-minded focus of the individual doing it might have one thing to do with why he’s so chronically underappreciated. Mousasi has cast a quiet profession in constructing a combat and, after doing what he does finest in a cage or ring, merely collects his test and goes dwelling.
“Mousasi is like Fedor Emelianenko, very quiet, doesn’t discuss a lot,” Machida mentioned, referring to the stoic Russian heavyweight legend. That places him again a bit, by way of development, however on the finish of the day, as a boxer, he has the abilities to get the outcomes he’s after. So what can individuals say about him? “
Unusually, Mousasi had one thing to say about himself shortly after beating Vanderford. “I really feel like the very best middleweight on the planet proper now,” Mousasi informed reporters. “I by no means mentioned that [before] as a result of I by no means thought I used to be the very best. “
That’s daring bravery for somebody competing in the identical weight class as a UFC champion Israel Adesanya. And Mousasi, even whereas making a case for himself, realized that in a sport with varied promotions working in separate vaults with uncommon serves, giving Opinion in regards to the pecking order of weight courses is like enjoying fantasy sports activities. “Speaking about it,” he mentioned, “is like speaking about how I wish to be Santa.”
Mousasi’s 4 years within the UFC got here earlier than Adesanya entered the Octagon. When Mousasi knocked Weidman out by knee in 2017, it was his fifth straight win, 4 of them within the end. He’s 4th within the official UFC middleweight rankings, and he thinks he’s subsequent to problem the champion then. Michael Bisping. However the UFC gave the title to Robert Whittaker as an alternative of.
So Bellator is for Mousasi, who in lower than a yr gained the championship. And never a lot to say about it.
“We now have individuals within the sport who discuss rather a lot however aren’t even that good, however individuals acknowledge their names they usually’re those preventing to win titles and massive cash,” mentioned Lima. . “After which there’s a man like Mousasi who talks within the cage together with his punches and kicks. The flexibility to regulate distance, timing, composure, aggression, knockdown protection, his jiu-jitsu – all of that makes him a tough employee to combat. He trains laborious, I do know, however he makes it like a stroll within the park . I want individuals would respect that extra.”