Bellator 200 did not go as planned for Rafael Carvalho.
The longest reigning champion in the promotion going into his clash with Gegard Mousasi, Carvalho, saw his middleweight title go away in London as he lost via first-round TKO.
Carvalho believes that his biggest mistake against Mousasi was working on inside leg kicks and giving Mousasi a chance to go for takedowns early in the fight, and wasn’t able to get back on his feet. With Mousasi quickly getting the mount, it was a matter of time before he forced the referee to stop the fight.
“He gave everything he had on the ground to keep me there,” Carvalho told MMA Fighting. “He was always a step ahead of me. It was complicated, I couldn’t show anything. What frustrated me the most wasn’t losing the fight, but the fact that I didn’t show anything. It was his day, but that’s what frustrated me the most.”
Carvalho would absolutely be down to an immediate rematch with Mousasi, but knows it’s unlikely. The Brazilian fighter, who had his 15-fight winning streak snapped by Mousasi in his seventh appearance inside the Bellator cage, wants to be ready to reclaim the 185-pound belt when time comes.
“Let’s see what (Bellator) wants, if they want me to fight a couple of times more or if they give me a rematch. I don’t know yet,” Carvalho said. “I’m taking time off, a few days off, and will watch the fight and see what I could’ve done differently and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Open to getting back in action “in a month or two,” Carvalho vows to “pick up the pieces and come back with everything.”
“If I have to climb the ladder again step by step, I will,” he said. “I don’t see any problem with that. I’m not in a hurry. I’ll think about what’s best and not do anything I can regret later. I’ll sit down with my coach and manager and see what’s best for us.”
One of the options for the future, if Carvalho was successful against Mousasi in London, would be moving up to light heavyweight. The 6-foot-3 middleweight has fought at 185 pounds throughout his entire MMA career, but was willing to cut less weight and challenge himself at 205 pounds later this year.
“I think I would have an advantage of not cutting so much weight,” said Carvalho, who weights around 216 pounds when he starts his camp. “I feel well at middleweight, but I’m open to offers. If (Bellator president) Scott (Coker) says he wants me to go up, I’d do it.
”I had this plan for after this fight if I had won, but let’s say plans have changed a little bit now. I want to get my belt back. I’m not in a hurry, will do it patiently.”