Bellator is looking to kick 2019 off with a bang.
Middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi is slated to defend his title on Jan. 26 in a featured bout at Bellator 214 against undefeated jiu-jitsu ace Rafael Lovato Jr., the promotion announced Monday. The matchup will serve as the co-main event underneath Bellator’s heavyweight tournament grand prix finals between Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko and light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.
Mousasi (45-6-2) has won eight straight contests stretching back to his UFC days and is a perfect 3-0 under the Bellator umbrella. The 33-year-old champion won his promotional debut with a contentious decision over Alexander Shlemenko, then captured Bellator middleweight gold with a first-round destruction of Rafael Carvalho. In his last fight, Mousasi routed welterweight titleholder Rory MacDonald en route to a second-round TKO in Bellator’s first-ever champion vs. champion bout.
Lovato (9-0), likewise, has been flawless thus far in his Bellator run. A decorated jiu-jitsu practitioner who has finished eight of his nine professional wins, Lovato’s résumé includes submission wins over UFC veterans Mike Rhodes, Gerald Harris, and John Salter.
Bellator 214 takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, California. A featherweight bout between blue-chip prospect Aaron Pico and top contender Henry Corrales has also been announced for the card, which will go head-to-head on the same night and in the same market as UFC 233, which takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Who wins it?
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Rafael Lovato Jr.