This Friday night, in the main event of Bellator 200, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and UFC middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi will challenge Rafael Carvalho for Bellator’s middleweight championship. The bout was originally expected to serve as the card’s co-headliner, but was elevated to the headlining spot when Roy Nelson and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s rematch was nixed due to injury.
Despite the fact that Mousasi will enter this fight more than 50 professional fights behind him, he’s apparently feeling quite nervous about it.
“I’m more nervous than normal, especially coming off a fight like my previous fight [a close decision win over Alexander Shlemenko],” Mousasi told reporters ahead of Bellator 200 (via MMAjunkie). “But I know once the cage door closes, everything goes automatic. So I don’t worry about it.”
While Mousasi is dealing with a few pre-fight jitters, he’s confident he’s possesses the tools required to deal with Bellator’s fearsome middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho.
“I have a lot of advantages, because he’s not a wrestler,” Mousasi said. “He’s not really a jiu-jitsu guy. He doesn’t push the pace, so it’s an advantage for me. I have my game plan.”
Mousasi is also confident he can contend with Carvalho’s significant physical advantages.
“I heard he has difficulties with weight cuts, because he’s so big,” Mousasi said. “Strength won’t be a factor in this fight, I believe. So speed is on my side. I feel like I will be the stronger fighter.”
Prior to his decision win over Alexander Shlemenko, which marked his debut under the Bellator banner, Gegard Mousasi defeated Chris Weidman, Uriah Hall, Vitor Belfort, Thiago Santos, and Thales Leites, all in the UFC’s Octagon. He hasn’t lost since September of 2015, when he succumbed to a wild, upset loss to Hall. He’s currently 43–6–2 as a professional mixed martial artist.
Do you think Gegard Mousasi will capture middleweight gold at Bellator 200 this weekend?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/23/2018.