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What the Heck, Episode 71: Gegard Mousasi, Chad Mendes, Tim Johnson, John Salter and Anthony Taylor

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On this week’s episode of What the Heck, MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck speaks with Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi (9:00) ahead of his first title defense since regaining the title when he faces John Salter in the main event of Friday’s Bellator 264 event to preview the matchup, discuss his championship earning win against Douglas Lima at Bellator 250 and not being overly thrilled with the fight, the challenges Salter presents, Austin Vanderford potentially being next, explaining comments he made about Chris Weidman’s injury and what he would do in his former opponent’s shoes and why he isn’t giving Tyron Woodley much of a chance against Jake Paul.

Bellator heavyweight Tim Johnson (30:14) gives his thoughts on booking the Oct. 23 fight against Fedor Emelianenko in Moscow, the negative fan reaction to the booking, how he went from fighting Emelianenko’s protege Valetnin Moldavsky for the interim heavyweight title to booking the biggest fight of his career, being happy with his performance in a losing effort to Modalvsky, and what a win over “The Last Emperor” would do for his legacy.

Former UFC title challenger Chad Mendes (46:30) explains how he signed a multi-fight deal with BKFC and how long the talks were in place, Urijah Faber playing a major role in the negotiations and how Faber might be more excited than Mendes with the move, the UFC giving their blessing to compete for BKFC, finding a happy medium between MMA striking and boxer ahead of his Oct. 22 debut, if there’s an update on who he’ll face, if he believes he has competed in his final MMA fight, and an update on Josh Emmett’s road to a UFC return.

Multi-time Bellator competitor Anthony Taylor (1:13:35) previews his boxing match against Tommy Fury to open up the pay-per-view card headlined by Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley, being in a dark place several years ago and getting back on track thanks to Antonio McKee, A.J. McKee’s star making performance against Patricio Pitbull, how he met Paul and became one of his main sparring partners, not being impressed with Fury’s boxing skills, playing with house money, and whether or not he plans to return to MMA after the fight.

Finally, John Salter (1:38:32) previews his first opportunity to compete for a world title as he challenges Gegard Mousasi in the main event of Bellator 264 this Friday, the over 20 year journey of competition in wrestling and MMA to get to this moment, being admittedly frustrated when the promotion booked Mousasi vs. Douglas Lima, how he matches up stylistically with a decorated striker like Mousasi, making sure he’s ready for a potential 25 minutes of action, Bryan Barberena returning from serious health issues recently, and what becoming champion against a legend like Mousasi would mean to him.

Check out the video above, or the audio-only podcast can be found below, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.