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Gegard Mousasi eyeing third world title at LHW to ‘to really make a difference’ to his MMA legacy

GEGARD MOUSASI has pretty much achieved it all in the sport of mixed martial arts.

From competing across the world – including in the legendary and now-defunct PRIDE promotion – and winning world titles in four different organisations, Mousasi has ticked every box on an aspiring MMA fighter’s bucket list.

Gegard Mousasi has won world titles in four different promotions

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Gegard Mousasi has won world titles in four different promotionsCredit: TWITTER
The Dreamcatcher is eyeing a second Bellator world title

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The Dreamcatcher is eyeing a second Bellator world titleCredit: AP

However, despite his immense success, international recognition and standing amongst the hardcore fans, the Iranian-born Dutchman still has an immense hunger to compete.

So what motivates the current Bellator middleweight champion in the 18th year of his storied career?

The answer is simple: adding to his legacy by returning to light-heavyweight and winning an unprecedented sixth world title.

He told SunSport: “There have a lot of fights that I’ve lost where I’ve thought, ‘Okay, I could’ve won, I could’ve dominated better.’

“I feel like I’m still in my prime. I’ve just lost one fight in many fights. So I feel like I’m in my prime still.

“But there’s a lot more that I can show and show people what I’m really capable of.

“Just to end my career by being satisfied. I don’t want to go out and be like, ‘I could’ve done and showed a lot more.’

“And the light-heavyweight belt, I think that’s something that is going to really make a difference in how people are going to look back at what I’ve done in my career.”

Mousasi’s eagerness to return to 205lbs stems from what he believes is a lack of viable contenders at middleweight.

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He said: “It wouldn’t be smart, to be honest, but I want to keep busy.

“I’m a middleweight, but unfortunately, there’s not a lot of big names in middleweight for me to fight.

“So I’ve fought two times the welterweight champion because there’s a lack of middleweights.

“That’s a problem. But actually, it’s not my problem, to be honest.

“There’s a challenge at light-heavyweight to fight the light-heavyweight champion.

“That’s definitely a fight that’s gonna happen.”

Mousasi would’ve thrown himself into the tasty light-heavyweight Grand Prix had he been given more notice by the promotion.

The Dreamcatcher said: “I got four month’s notice. ‘We want you in the light-heavyweight tournament.’

“But even if I wanted to, I had a lot of personal issues back then. I would’ve pulled out of the fight.

CONFIDENT

“And also, I would’ve got injured. So I never would’ve even made the light-heavyweight tournament even if I wanted it.

“But I didn’t want it because there was no time to gain weight, no time to be like, ‘Okay, who am I fighting?’

“It wouldn’t have been in my favour. I’m a fighter and I want to win my fights.

“I don’t want to lose fights and say, ‘I lost because I was injured or I fought a bigger guy. I always want to win. So why would I go up on short notice.”

Before he can think about moving up in weight and adding another belt to his collection, Mousasi must first get through his latest title defence against the in-form Jonathan Salter – which will serve as the main event of Bellator 264.

But the ever-confident 36-year-old is envisaging an easy night at the office.

The former UFC standout said: “There’s no secret to what he’s going to do. He’s going to try and wrestle, going to look for submissions.

“I’m pretty sure he’s confident because he feels that’s the style to beat me but the way I want to go into the cage is to really fight him wherever the fight goes.

“Not to give him too much respect on the ground. I’m just going to work away, not stay there.

“I will be fine. He’s a tough opponent, but there’s a lot of holes in his game.

“He’s not that fast, he doesn’t have great stand-up and I don’t have to fear his ground-and-pound.

“I feel like physically he’s very strong and maybe he controls well. But that’s not going to get him the win.”

Watch Bellator 264: Mousasi vs. Salter, live on BBC iPlayer from 11pm BST on Friday, August 13


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