June 20, 2019

Bellator 223: Gegard Mousasi Might Be MMA's Best Middleweight, But He Can't Prove It In Bellator

By Adam Martin

This Saturday at the SSE Arena in London, England, Bellator MMA Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi looks to defend his title against top contender Rafael Lovato Jr. in the main event of Bellator 223. With the UFC holding a Fight Night event the same day, this Bellator card has been flying under the radar a bit. But Mousasi is must-watch MMA, and this fight against the undefeated Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Lovato is very intriguing.

Mousasi, who joined Bellator back in 2017, is coming off of a destructive TKO win over Rory MacDonald to improve to 3-0 in Bellator, with previous victories over Rafael Carvalho and Alexander Shlemenko. Overall, the 33-year-old Iranian-born Dutchman is currently riding an eight-fight win streak, one that includes victories over Chris Weidman, Uriah Hall, and Thiago Santos. Remember, he was not cut from the UFC. Rather, he chose to exercise his right as a free agent to test the open market, and Bellator made a better offer than the UFC. As strong as the UFC's middleweight division is, you still have to think that Dana White and the UFC matchmakers wish they never let Mousasi go.

It's arguable that Mousasi is the best middleweight on the planet right now. Yes, UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker and interim champ Israel Adesanya are both incredible talents, and by virtue of fighting in the UFC they are ranked higher in the world than Mousasi is. But Mousasi is no slouch. He has looked amazing in Bellator, and his knockout win over MacDonald was arguably the most impressive and brutal win of his long and storied MMA career. Considering Mousasi has over 50 professional bouts and over 40 victories since beginning his MMA career in 2003, that says a lot.

Unfortunately, fighting in Bellator, it will be hard for Mousasi to prove he's the best middleweight in the world. Most fans and media believe the best fighters in the sport are in the UFC, so even if Mousasi continues to destroy his competition in Bellator, few will consider him the world's top middleweight. He would likely have to return to the UFC and beat both Whittaker and Adesanya in order to prove that. But considering Mousasi is making more money fighting in Bellator, he's probably ok with his current situation, even if fans would love to see him take on the UFC's top 185-pounders.

A return to the UFC one day can't be written off, but for now Gegard Mousasi will continue to ply his trade in Bellator. If he can go out on Saturday, finish Lovato, and take away his undefeated record, it will be another scalp for the storied resume of "The Dreamcatcher." He very well could be the best middleweight in the sport right now. But fighting in Bellator, he can't prove that. He'll have to be content with making more money than the UFC offered him to beat arguably lesser opponents, and considering that this is prizefighting, he's probably OK with that. But it sure would be interesting to see him fight Whittaker and Adesanya in the Octagon, wouldn't it?

Bellator 223
Gegard Mousasi vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. (MW Championship)


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