Gegard Mousasi's Bellator plan: Shlemenko, title, MacDonald, light heavyweight – then retire?

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Gegard Mousasi sees endless possibilities for his Bellator career, but he knows it all starts with getting an impressive victory in his promotional debut next week at Bellator 185.

Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) signed with Bellator in July after a four-year run in the UFC. He said he’s excited about having more “freedom” with the rival organization, and it all starts with a middleweight main event against ex-champ Alexander Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA) at Bellator 185, which takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

If he emerges victorious, Mousasi said he’s been promised the next title shot – against the winner of December’s Bellator 190 headliner between current 185-pound champ Rafael Carvalho (14-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) and No. 1 contender Alessio Sakara (19-11 MMA, 2-0 BMMA). Mousasi’s primary goal is to add the Bellator title to a mantel that currently includes Strikeforce and DREAM gold, but he also believes that could be just the beginning.

Mousasi, No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, wants big-name fights, and he’s willing to welcome the likes of Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) into his weight class or even make a return to light heavyweight to get them.

“For me there are a lot of options,” Mousasi told MMAjunkie. “I have to beat Shlemenko first, then the title fight, then maybe a matchup against Rory MacDonald, and then maybe light heavyweight. In light heavyweight, you have ‘King Mo’ (Lawal); you have Ryan Bader, Phil Davis, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, ‘Rampage’ Jackson – all big names. Plenty of names I can fight and make exciting fights.”

At 32 Mousasi said he’s not yet thinking about retirement, but with a six-fight, 28-month contract with Bellator, he knows he could be one of the last contracts – if not the not last – of his career. Mousasi is currently on a five-fight winning streak, though, and said until he sees declining results, there’s no reason to consider walking away.

“As a fighter I feel like I’m not near the end of my career because I’m still winning,” Mousasi said. “But after six fights, I will probably be around 34 or 35. I think that’s a good age to retire, but I’m not thinking about that too much. I want to see what the results of the fights are going to be. If I keep losing, then of course it doesn’t make sense to continue. If I keep winning, I will keep continuing for maybe another three fights and then see again after that.”

Although Mousasi has great aspirations for what can be done over his six-fight Bellator deal, he said he’s not overlooking the task at hand. Shlemenko is one of the very few relevant opponents Mousasi can face in MMA who actually has more fights than him (65 to 50), and for that reason alone, he can’t be underestimated.

Some other UFC crossovers have struggled with the transition to Bellator, and Mousasi said he feels some responsibility to not only beat Shlemenko, but do so impressively.

“I feel like I should bee able to finish him in two rounds,” Mousasi said. “I’m too fast. Physically I’m bigger and stronger. I have the reach. I have the advantage in the stand-up and on the ground and in wrestling. Everything is to my advantage. The only thing I have to worry about is spinning back kicks, elbows and stuff like that. He’s tough and comes to fight, but I feel like he’s too aggressive. He makes a lot of mistakes. He comes to fight, and that’s why he makes a lot of mistakes, because he wants to brawl. I will land my shots.”

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator champ Rafael Carvalho meets Alessio Sakara in Italy

A long-rumored middleweight title fight is official for Bellator’s return to Italy.

Bellator officials recently announced that 185-pound title holder Rafael Carvalho (14-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) faces Italy’s own Alessio Sakara (19-11 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) in the main event of Bellator 190 on Dec. 9 at Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence.

Carvalho brings an impressive 14-fight winning streak to the cage, standing undefeated since dropping his pro debut in 2011. Included in that 14-fight run are 11 knockout wins. The Brazilian scored the Bellator middleweight crown with an October 2015 TKO of Brandon Halsey and has since defended it twice with a pair of wins over Dutch knockout artist Melvin Manhoef.

Meanwhile, Sakara is best known for his 15 UFC appearances that spanned from 2005 to 2013. While his octagon run ended with four consecutive losses, “Legionarius” has experienced a rejuvenation in his post-UFC career, currently boasting a three-fight winning streak that has seen Sakara earn all three via knockout.

For more on Bellator 190, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie