Despite a career that stretches more than 16 years, Gegard Mousasi actually doesn’t enjoy fighting all that much.
Now it’s not to say that the reigning Bellator middleweight champion despises his job but rather he looks at mixed martial arts as his profession and he treats it as such.
“I’m fighting to get paid,” Mousasi told MMAFighting ahead of his return at Bellator London on Saturday. “I’m not doing this because I love the sport so much. I’m not a crazy person. The motivation if I beat these guys, if I keep winning, my paycheck will go up eventually after my contract is done. That’s the motivation for me. It’s my job.
“The better you do, the more you make. It’s the same for a doctor or lawyer. If you’re a better lawyer, you’re going to make more money. That’s what I’m trying to do. I want to be the best fighter that I can be to beat these guys and then I get a better contract. That’s the whole thing that keeps me going. Fighting is not my life.”
The motivation for bigger fights and new challenges are what drove Mousasi to accept his most recent win over Rory MacDonald in a rare champion versus champion showcase.
It’s the same reason why Mousasi already considered a move up to light heavyweight to face reigning champion Ryan Bader or a potential shift down to welterweight in the future — because it will put the most money into his bank account.
“They wanted to make the Ryan Bader fight before [Rafael] Lovato and I said fine, pay me more. I’ve said to them, I will go to welterweight, pay me more,” Mousasi said. “If they don’t want to pay me more, I’m fine. I don’t need to do crazy stuff. If I go down [to welterweight], it’s going to take a lot of crazy stuff, a lot of energy out of me. If I go up, I’m going to be facing a bigger, stronger wrestler guy that’s not particularly a good style matchup for me but I’m willing to fight anybody.
“Like I said, I’m not doing it for fun. I’m doing it because I get paid. If they wanted to have a big super fight, that’s fine, pay me more. If not, I’m fine. I’ll stay at middleweight and I’ll do my thing.”
This weekend, Mousasi will put his middleweight title on the line against undefeated submission specialist Rafael Lovato Jr. and he had no problem whatsoever accepting the challenge.
In fact, Mousasi says there’s not a single challenge that Bellator could throw his way at middleweight that he wouldn’t take but any future ‘superfights’ are going to require a little more time at the negotiating table.
“I got three fights on my contract. I want to win them, I want to finish them,” Mousasi explained. “I made my money with good investments, I’m going to make maybe $1 million a year just with my real estate. So for me to go and say I’ll continue fighting, I don’t need to do it. If they come and say ‘we’ll pay you this much to come and fight’ then sure why not. I feel like I’m in my prime. It’s not like I’m losing, and I’m just going in there to get paid.
“It all depends on payments, it all depends on the results of the fight, it all depends on my injuries. This stuff is not fun for me anymore. It’s just my work. The better I work, the more they pay me.”
To build on his current eight-fight win streak and defend the Bellator middleweight championship, Mousasi will have to go through Lovato and while he doesn’t have the most established name in the sport, he’s still a dangerous opponent.
Lovato has won eight of his nine career fights by submission but there are still a lot of glaring weaknesses in his overall skill set according to Mousasi.
“If it hits the ground, there’s always that danger of getting submitted. This fight can finish in one minute if I’m not sharp and he just takes me down and chokes me out. Anything can happen. Obviously, I’ve taken him very seriously,” Mousasi said.
“He lacks power in his punches, I feel. He lacks speed. His takedowns are not so great. On the ground, he’s really good. He’s undefeated so there’s a lot of questions that are to be answered. We’ll find out on June 22. I’m prepared. I’m coming to hurt him and then we’ll see what he’s made of.”
If Mousasi is successful, a nine-fight winning streak including victories over former UFC champion Chris Weidman, heavy-handed Brazilian Thiago Santos not to mention his undefeated run in Bellator, it would certainly make a strong argument that he is the best middleweight in the sport.
That might be nice for a few headlines but none of it really matters much to Mousasi unless it’s somehow going to translate into a heftier contract next time around.
“Listen, if I fought Israel [Adesanya] or I fought [Robert] Whittaker, those matchups are actually really good for me, style wise. So obviously I feel I would have a great chance of winning,” Mousasi stated when speaking about the two current middleweight champions in the UFC. “I don’t care if they say ‘best middleweight’ because the best guys lose also. I’m not in that to be the best. On June 22 I have to be the best and I have to beat Lovato and then whoever they put in front of me the next time. The next day, someone else can be better than me. Anyone can be beaten.
“If I lose my next fight, you will see cockroaches come out of the ground and say ‘see I told you he would lose’. That’s how people work. So why would I put that pressure on myself when it really doesn’t matter to say ‘I’m the greatest, I’m the best’, I don’t need that s—t. It’s just a job for me.”