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

Ex-Bellator champ Liam McGeary 'broke my bloody thumb,' calls out top 205ers

Dann StuppRemember that injury that knocked Liam McGeary out of next week’s Bellator 185 event? We now have an X-ray of it.

As MMAjunkie reported this past week, McGeary (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA), a replacement for Muhammad Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA), was slated to fight Bubba McDaniel (28-10 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) at the event, which takes place Oct. 20 and airs on Spike from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. However, an injury knocked him out of the bout.

The nature of McGeary’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but the former Bellator light-heavyweight champion recently revealed a “bloody thumb” he broke.

Here’s a pic (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

In a lengthy caption that accompanied the X-ray, McGeary said he still wants to fight “King Mo” – like, really wants to fight him:

“Tell you what tho bubba, you lucky bastard! You got away from a fuckin hiding there!! I was gunna prove a point on you!! I bet I could have even done that 1 handed. But the doc wouldn’t let me!
@kingmofh , I’m gunna be out for a little while longer, heal up fast mate, let’s get this fight sorted! I want to fight you man”

McGeary, who was hoping to rebound from a submission loss to Linton Vassell in May, didn’t stop there, though. The 35-year-old English striker also called out Phil Davis (17-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), who took the title from McGeary in 2016. He also gave out a shoutout (and callout) to Vassell (18-5 MMA, 7-2 BMMA), who meets current champ Ryan Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) in Bellator 186’s main event next month.

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

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Gegard Mousasi enjoying added freedom with Bellator after 'hard road' with UFC

Gegard Mousasi hasn’t even stepped in the cage for his first Bellator fight, but already he appears much happier with the status of his career than any point in his four-year UFC run.

Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) became one of several notable names to sign with Bellator through free agency this year when he inked a multi-fight deal in July. He makes his promotional debut on Oct. 20 when he meets Alexander Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA) in Bellator 185’s middleweight headliner, which takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Over the course of his more than 14-year, 50-fight career, Mousasi has competed in 20 different organizations. He said he didn’t hate his time with the UFC relative to others, but in just a few months of being part of the Bellator roster, he said he’s already feeling right at home.

“Life is easier,” Mousasi told MMAjunkie. “I was able to bring my friends also into Bellator. The treatment that I’m getting is great. I feel Bellator has space to grow, not only with me, but also as a company.

“I was a small fish in the UFC. I’m a big fish in Bellator. That’s why I want to do my part to grow with Bellator. There’s a connection that I don’t have with UFC. It’s a company, like a factory. With Bellator, it’s more that I’m part of the family, and I’m doing the best I can to grow with the family.”

Mousasi said his goal isn’t to trash the UFC, because ultimately he feels he was given a solid platform. He was either the main or co-main event in 12 of his 13 appearances with the organization. Despite that prominent positioning, though, Mousasi said he never felt like he was truly given a push. He never got to fight for a championship and said he never even felt like he was considered despite a five-fight winning streak, which included a TKO of former champion Chris Weidman in his final octagon appearance at UFC 210 in April.

There have been many instances in which the UFC has made decisions in a proper and logical manner, but more recently the rhyme and reason behind awarding title shots has become less clear. Mousasi, No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, felt he was somewhat a victim of that shift, and he admits it was a frustrating position.

“I was treated well in the UFC because I got the opportunity to get where I am now,” Mousasi said. “But, if I was to criticize them, I think the fairness of payment or the fairness of getting a title shot, it’s too much about the name of the fighter and who they feel they can build as a star as opposed to who is the best fighter. There are issues. Before the belt I’d have to fight probably Luke Rockhold, I would have fought Yoel Romero because (Robert) Whittaker is next. It would have made my road so difficult to get to the top. Some get an easy road.

“They give the fighters they like matchups suited for them so they can keep winning. They’ll probably do (Conor) McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 3. Why? Because McGregor has a good shot of winning. They’re not going to make a fight with Khabib (Nurmagomedov) or Tony (Ferguson) because it’s bad for the promotion. Those things, you feel as a fighter. I’m not making things up. It’s frustrating. I had to take the hard road. That’s what I feel.”

Joining Bellator also gives Mousasi the freedom to pursue his own sponsorship opportunities. Under the UFC banner, he was tied to the Reebok Athlete Outfitting Policy, which paid him $10,000 for his most recent fight. Mousasi said he believes the Reebok deal has badly damaged the sponsorship market as a whole, but between the limited opportunities he was able to get for himself and the additional purse money guaranteed within his Bellator contract, he said he’s coming out ahead.

“Sponsorship is not that important for me because I feel like I’m getting paid well,” Mousasi said. “I don’t need a lot of sponsorship. But sponsorship is also not that great because UFC has killed it with the Reebok deal. A lot of companies that used to be there are not anymore. It’s a little bit tougher to get sponsorship. But I don’t really need sponsors.

“People don’t care about me that much because I’m not a U.S. citizen. In Holland, there’s not that big support for me here. For me, it’s little bit different. Sometimes it makes a difference where you’re from. If you’re an American fighter or Canadian fighter or Brazilian fighter you get certain opportunities a Dutch fighter doesn’t get. The sponsors my manager got paid for the extra guys coming with me (to Bellator 185). Just to pay the bills; it’s allowance money.”

Regardless of his thoughts on the UFC’s business practices, Mousasi said he’s excited to begin a new chapter of his career with Bellator. He has a relationship with Bellator President Scott Coker from his days under the now-defunct Strikeforce banner, and Mousasi said he’s happy to fight for Coker once again.

Mousasi, 32, said he believes he will be heard and accommodated much more in a budding promotion like Bellator than he would have otherwise, and that makes him motivated to put on his best performance. He said he expects to get a stoppage win over Shlemenko then move on to challenge for Bellator’s 185-pound title. After that? There’s a potential to chase big-name fights, switch up weight classes, dabble in kickboxing or do anything else his heart desires.

“That’s one of the great things about Bellator is I have the freedom to decide and do whatever I feel,” Mousasi said. “I have more freedom. It’s a lot more easy-going. Scott bringing me into Bellator, I want to have a good impression. I don’t want to let anyone down. I’ve come to get the belt. I have to beat (Shlemenko)m and I have to beat him decisively. I have to make a statement.”

For complete coverage of Bellator 185, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bubba McDaniel begs for booking after using 'money I didn't have' to train for Bellator 185

Bubba McDaniel is apparently in a tough spot after losing out on a high-profile Bellator fight just days after being granted the opportunity.

McDaniel (28-10 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) agreed to fight former Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) at next week’s Bellator 185 event after Muhammad Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) was forced to withdraw due to an injury. The matchup came together on short notice, but McDaniel was willing to move up a weight class and take on the challenge.

Just six days after he signed for the fight, though, McGeary suffered an injury of his own, and the matchup was scratched all together from the Bellator 185 lineup, which takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

The change left McDaniel in a troubling position. He said he invested a great deal into the few days of training he had for the fight, and now he’s left hanging with nothing (via Twitter):

When contacted on Monday about the news of McGeary’s injury, a Bellator official told MMAjunkie that McDaniel would be booked for a future event, albeit likely against a different opponent.

McDaniel, 34, has competed just once in the past two years. He earned a second-round TKO win over Juan Torres at Strike League 1 in April. His social media posts indicate he’s in a dire situation, and “The Menace” said he hopes Bellator can put him on an event – any event – sooner than later (via Twitter):

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

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Liam McGeary injured, fight vs. Bubba McDaniel scratched from next week's Bellator 185

Liam McGeary just can’t catch a break.

After losing out on a high-profile fight with Muhammad Lawal on short notice, McGeary (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) has suffered an injury of his own and will not be able to compete at Bellator 185 next week. His fight against replacement opponent Bubba McDaniel (28-10 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) has been removed from the card.

The exact nature of McGeary’s injury is unknown, but it’s severe enough that the former Bellator light heavyweight champion won’t be able to fight, MMAjunkie today verified with a Bellator official.

Bellator 185 takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

McDaniel will be booked for a future Bellator card, though it’s unlikely he still will fight McGeary, who he was moving up from the middleweight division to take on in a short-notice situation.

With the scratch, the latest Bellator 185 card now includes:

MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET, Spike)

  • Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko
  • David Rickels vs. Brennan Ward
  • Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
  • Neiman Gracie vs. Javier Torres
  • Ana Julaton vs. Lisa Blaine

PRELIMINARY CARD (MMAjunkie)

  • Ryan Quinn vs. Marcus Surin
  • Steve Skrzat vs. Costello Van Steenis
  • Alec Hooben vs. Jordan Young

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

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Fans at Bellator 185 can get a Royce Gracie bobblehead to go next to their Fedor one

Bellator is staying in the bobblehead business this month with another MMA legend.

In September, Bellator gave away 5,000 Fedor Emelianenko bobbleheads to fans at Bellator 183 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The promotional move was a hit with fans in California who got a mini version of the Russian heavyweight legend wearing his “glorious sweater of absolute victory.”

Later this month at Bellator 185, which takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., the promotion will give away Royce Gracie bobbleheads.

The promotion today announced the first 5,000 fans into Bellator 185 will get a Gracie bobblehead. Plus, Gracie, a UFC Hall of Famer, will be on hand from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to sign autographs and greet fans in the Mohegan Sun concourse outside the arena.

Here’s the bobblehead fans can pick up in Connecticut in 16 days’ time:

Bellator 185 is headlined by the promotional debut of Gegard Mousasi vs. former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.

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

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bubba McDaniel replaces 'King Mo' against Liam McGeary at Bellator 185

It didn’t take long for Bellator to find a replacement opponent to step in to fight former champion Liam McGeary at Bellator 185 later this month.

MMAjunkie reported on Monday that Muhammed Lawal would not be able to meet McGeary (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) in the light heavyweight bout due to an undisclosed injury. Stepping in for “King Mo” will be Bellator and UFC veteran Bubba McDaniel (28-10 MMA, 3-1 BMMA), MMAjunkie today learned from a Bellator official.

Bellator 185 takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

McDaniel has only fought twice in the past two years but was victorious in both appearances and boasts wins in seven of his past nine contests. His most recent Bellator appearance took place in November 2015, when he earned a second-round TKO of Kenyon Jackson at Bellator 146.

Although the change comes just over two weeks’ notice, McGeary is no stranger to late opponent switches. The former Bellator 205-pound titleholder went through three different opponents before beating Brett McDermott at Bellator 173 in February. He had no opponent switches for a Bellator 179 fight with Linton Vassell in May, but he came out on the losing end of that contest via third-round submission.

With McGeary now fighting McDaniel, a welterweight bout between David Rickels (18-4 MMA, 12-4 BMMA) and Brennan Ward (14-6 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) has been elevated to the Bellator 185 co-main event slot.

The latest Bellator 185 card now includes:

  • Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko
  • David Rickels vs. Brennan Ward
  • Bubba McDaniel vs. Liam McGeary
  • Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
  • Ryan Quinn vs. Marcus Surin
  • Steve Skrzat vs. Costello Van Steenis
  • Alec Hooben vs. Jordan Young

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

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

'King Mo' Lawal out of Bellator 185 co-headliner against Liam McGeary

Injuries continue to plague Muhammed Lawal, this time forcing him out of his Bellator 185 co-main event with Liam McGeary later this month.

Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) has been forced to pull out of his light-heavyweight matchup with McGeary (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) at Bellator 185 due to an undisclosed injury, a Bellator official today told MMAjunkie. The organization is seeking a replacement to step in for “King Mo.”

Bellator 185 takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

After fighting eight times between 2015-2016, this year has been rather unkind to Lawal. The 36-year-old picked up a unanimous-decision win over Quinton Jackson at Bellator 185 in March, but the former Strikeforce champion and Rizin FF heavyweight grand-prix winner hasn’t fought since then.

Lawal was scheduled to meet Ryan Bader at Bellator 180 in June, but he was forced to withdraw due to an injury. It’s unknown if his latest injury is related to the one that prevented him from fighting Bader.

That leaves McGeary without an opponent – something that has become a familiar situation for the 34-year-old Brit. The former Bellator titleholder went through three different opponents before beating Brett McDermott at Bellator 173 in February. He had no opponent switches for a Bellator 179 fight with Linton Vassell in May, but he came out on the losing end of that contest via third-round submission.

With Lawal’s withdrawal, the latest Bellator 185 card includes:

  • Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko
  • Liam McGeary vs. TBA
  • David Rickels vs. Brennan Ward
  • Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
  • Ryan Quinn vs. Marcus Surin
  • Steve Skrzat vs. Costello Van Steenis
  • Alec Hooben vs. Jordan Young

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

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

David Rickels vs. Brennan Ward among new additions to Bellator 185 on Oct. 20

The next major Bellator event is shaping up to be a good one with the additional of several new fights, including a welterweight bout between longtime promotional veterans David Rickels and Brennan Ward.

MMAjunkie today verified the matchup between Rickels (18-4 MMA, 12-4 BMMA) and Ward (14-6 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) with a Bellator official.

Bellator 185 takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The event airs on Spike following early prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

David Rickels

Rickels will set a new Bellator record most appearances in the promotion’s history when he steps in the cage for the 19th time. After spending much of his career with the organization in the lightweight division, Rickels moved up to 170 pounds in February 2016, and the results have paid off.

“The Caveman” is 2-0 with one no-contest since the change in weight class, and he will attempt to continue that run with a showdown against one of the most exciting fighters in all of Bellator.

Although he’s lost three of his past four fights, Ward has proven to be among the greatest action-fighters in Bellator history. All 15 of his appearances with the company have ended in a stoppage, albeit Ward has ended on the wrong of those results in his past two fights with defeats against Fernando Gonzalez and Paul Daley.

Also official for Bellator 185 are a pair of preliminary card fights. Ryan Quinn (13-7-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) meets Marcus Surin (4-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a lightweight bout while Steve Skrzat (8-9 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) takes on Costello van Steenis (8-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at middleweight.

The latest Bellator 185 card now includes:

  • Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko
  • Muhammed Lawal vs. Liam McGeary
  • David Rickels vs. Brennan Ward
  • Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
  • Marcus Surin vs. Ryan Quinn
  • Costello van Steenis vs. Steve Skrzat

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

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Gegard Mousasi requested Alexander Shlemenko be drug tested for Bellator 185

When Gegard Mousasi signed with Bellator earlier this year, the Viacom-owned promotion offered many perks.

One struck Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in particular: The freedom to request drug testing of his opponents.

In advance of his debut at Bellator 185, Mousasi is cashing that check early. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA), a former middleweight champ and Mousasi’s debut foe, is clean after being tested recently.

Mike Mazzulli, who oversees the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulations that will regulate Bellator 185, told MMAjunkie Shelemenko passed his first test and will be tested again closer to the fight. He said Mousasi’s test is “in process.”

Mazzulli has previously conducted drug testing on Bellator’s behalf for international events. The additional testing is funded by the promoter.

Bellator 185 takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The event’s main card airs live on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Mousasi anticipated a title bout against champ Rafael Carvalho for his debut. But when he found out he’d be facing Shlemenko, a fighter with a previous suspension for a banned substance, he requested his opponent be screened.

“Let’s be honest: He’s been caught for 50 times the testosterone amount of a normal human being, so he definitely has cheated before,” Mousasi said. “But this time, he tested clean. So far, so good. I want to have fighters that are clean. I’m a clean fighter, so I want my opponent to be clean.”

Following a knockout win over Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 133, Shlemenko was flagged for oxandrolone, a banned steroid, and a staggeringly high testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 50-1. Initially suspended for three years and fined $10,000, he successfully challenged the punishment in court and received a reduced suspension and $5,000 fine.

While awaiting the decision, Shlemenko fought overseas in Russia and this past October returned to the Bellator cage, taking out Kendall Grove. Not including the no-contest that resulted from his positive test, he’s won six straight fights.

Mousasi doesn’t think much of Shlemenko’s legal efforts and believes the fighter needs to be held to account.

“You know there’s a guy who’s deliberately cheating,” he said. “I don’t want to have a guy who’s physically or mentally twice as strong who normally wouldn’t be that. I want to fight a clean fight. In a clean fight, I’m not worried. I know what I can do.

“When the sport is clean, I’m one of the best fighters. We’ve seen a lot of people who didn’t perform after USADA. All I’m asking is a fair opponent.”

It’s not the first time Mousasi has gone on the record about his doping concerns. He’s accused ex-UFC champ Lyoto Machida of using steroids and ventured ex-champ Vitor Belfort wouldn’t perform as well without the use of the now-banned testosterone-replacement therapy.

“(Shlemenko) deserves a second chance,” Mousasi said. “I think he was a clean fighter for a long time. I’m not saying he wasn’t. But that time he cheated against Melvin, and he paid the penalty. Hopefully, he’s a clean fighter now. He showed he’s clean, so we’re going to fight.”

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

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie