Earlier this week, we learned that former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ and long-time UFC middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi had failed to agree on the terms of a new UFC contract, and that he would be moving to the world’s second biggest MMA promotion, Bellator MMA.
Given Mousasi’s stature as one of the finest middleweights on the planet, it was immediately assumed that he’d walk right through the doors to a Bellator middleweight title shot opposite reigning champion Rafael Carvalho.
Mousasi also made it clear that this was his hope:
“I’m looking forward to be champion there,” he said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “If I achieve that, I look forward to going a division up and getting the 205 belt. But first the middleweight belt. That’s my goal.”
As it turns out, however, this may not be the way things unfold. While Mousasi has said that he expects to debut in the Bellator cage in September or October, the champ Carvalho recently announced that he’s already signed to defend his title in December in Italy – and not against Mousasi.
Instead, Carvalho says he’s defending his belt against another UFC veteran in Italian action-fighter Alessio Sakara.
“The plan continues the same,” Carvalho told MMAFighting.com on Tuesday. “I signed the contract today to fight Alessio Sakara in December, so it’s done.”
In Carvalho’s opinion, it wouldn’t be fair for Mousasi to jump to the front of the middleweight contender line anyway.
“I don’t think it’s right to have Mousasi fighting for the title right away,” he said. “He should fight once or twice to prove he deserves this chance. It would be disrespectful to other fighters who are competing for their opportunities in the division. It would be unfair. If Bellator did that, it would be the same thing the UFC does to other fighters, and that’s not nice.”
The logic here, of course, is just a tad flawed, as Sakara has yet to fight in the Bellator middleweight division. Though he’s fought at 185 pounds in the past, his two Bellator fights – knockouts of Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran – have both occurred at light heavyweight.
Do you think Gegard Mousasi deserves an immediate middleweight title shot? If that’s what he wants, it sounds like he’ll have to wait till the new year, when Carvalho and Sakara have settled their score.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/12/2017.