With over a year on the sidelines, Gegard Mousasi is ready to show the world he’s still one of the top middleweights in the sport—although he doesn’t necessarily think a victory in his next fight will be the one to ultimately prove that.
“The Dreamcatcher” returns to action this Thursday to headline Bellator 250 in a superfight against current 170-pound champion Douglas Lima for the vacant middleweight title. The event takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. and will air on the CBS Sports Network.
Mousasi, who is coming off of a win against Lyoto Machida at Bellator 228 in September 2019, is well aware that Thursday’s highly anticipated matchup is a huge fight for the promotion. However, beating the welterweight champion in his mind won’t put him in any pound-for-pound lists in his opinion.
“At the end of the day, I’m the bigger guy. I’m supposed to win,” Mousasi told MMA Fighting. “I don’t know how much credit I’ll get for the fight. If he wins, he gains a lot. He’s the double champ. I don’t see it like that, I see him as a big welterweight. You see a lot of welterweights doing very well at middleweight so there’s not a big size difference. I just see him as a tough opponent.
“But it’s not going to make me [the top guy]. It’s not like I’m beating Jon Jones and it makes me suddenly the No. 1 guy in the world. But it will be good to get a win over Douglas Lima. He’s definitely one of the bigger names out there.”
The 35-year-old, despite the significance of the matchup, doesn’t feel any pressure heading into his matchup with Mousasi. While 2020 has been a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Netherlands native has made a lot of changes to his game, his day-to-day preparation, and is ready to show that on Thursday, and in subsequent bouts.
“He’s coming up to 185, I don’t think he’s ranked there,” Mousasi explained. “It’s just a superfight. Obviously it’s gonna make me champion then I have to go through the guys who are the No. 1 contender.
“I have no pressure because I feel great. I feel like I’m gonna do great and I’m so confident in this fight that I’m not worried at all. There’s no pressure on me. Not just Douglas. From not on, you’ll see how I’m gonna beat my opponent. A little spinach goes a long way. We’re gonna finish everyone.”
This is not the first time Mousasi has been involved in a fight like this. In June 2018, he took on fellow former UFC contender—and then Bellator welterweight champion—Rory MacDonald in the main event of Bellator 206. Mousasi went on to dominate MacDonald en route to a second-round TKO to retain his title.
Now looking to get his belt back, Mousasi sees some similarities heading into Thursday with the MacDonald fight, including the result.
“It’s a fight and you never know what’s going to happen,” Mousasi said. “I can go in and make it short work and have an easy night, or I could go in and have the toughest fight of my life. I’m very confident in my abilities, but also with Douglas Lima’s style, I’m going to present a lot of trouble for him.”
Since losing the 170-pound strap to MacDonald in January 2018, Lima picked up finishes of Andrey Koreshkov and Michael Page before negating his loss to MacDonald when he recaptured the belt and won the welterweight grand prix at Bellator 232.
Despite being impressed with Lima’s current run, Mousasi feels the timing of this fight doesn’t favor his opponent.
“He avenged both losses, he’s been on a winning streak,” Mousasi says of Lima. “He’s confident, he’s mature, experienced, has the mentality. Of course, he’s a dangerous guy but I think he’s facing me at the wrong time because I feel great, better than ever, and I think it’s going to show in the fight.”
When asked for an official prediction of how Bellator 250 is capped off, Mousasi believes that he will be able to make relatively short work of the welterweight champion.
“[I have] tremendous respect for Douglas Lima,” Mousasi stated. “I’m not trying to be cocky but I should be able to finish him in two rounds.”