Gegard Mousasi plans on stopping Rafael Lovato Jr. at source in Bellator London title clash

LONDON – The last time Gegard Mousasi fought in London, he ended the night drunk. And the Bellator middleweight champion is hoping for a repeat dose this weekend.

Speaking to MMA Junkie from the Netherlands before making the trip to London for fight week, Mousasi (46-6-2 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) was in a typically relaxed mood. It’s partly because he’ll be returning to a happy hunting ground in London, where he enjoyed a memorable night, both inside and outside the cage, last year.

“London has always been good to me,” he said. “I have always had victories in London and I have always won my fights in Europe, so that’s a good thing to have in the back of my mind.”

Mousasi’s last visit to the English capital was a particularly profitable one. A first-round TKO finish of Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 200 saw Mousasi capture the Bellator middleweight title in just his second fight for the organization.

“The last time, when I won the belt, there was a big celebration with friends, so I hope to it again and have a good night,” he said. “We got drunk, the whole team. We had 30 or 40 friends who came over from Holland for the fight. We all got drunk … then I went to sleep.”

Mousasi’s return to the scene of his Bellator title success could be considered something of a happy accident. “The Dreamcatcher” was originally booked to face American grappling ace Rafael Lovato Jr. (9-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) at Bellator 214 in January, but a niggling nerve issue in the Dutchman’s back forced the postponement of the bout. With his back now healed up, Mousasi is ready to return and faces Lovato in a rearranged title defense at Bellator London this coming weekend.

Unlike his last fight, where he faced the truly multi-faceted MMA skillset of Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald, Mousasi faces something of an old-school test – a bona-fide grappling specialist. And the seasoned Dutchman says that while he will have to be on his guard against the American’s dangerous submission game, he has the edge as a result of his more varied MMA arsenal.

“For this fight he could get me to the ground and maybe submit me in one minute,” he said. “But that’s his thing. It doesn’t matter that he only has nine (MMA) fights. If I grapple with him in jiu-jitsu, he could win, but thank God for me it’s MMA.

“He can fight standup. He can do ground-and-pound. He can do wrestling. It’s about who is the better MMA fighter. Obviously, we’re not going to go and waste time fighting him on the ground, where he’s at his best. We’re going to do our thing, and that’s ground-and-pound and stand-up.”

Seasoned MMA fans will have read that quote and likely nodded in agreement. But while the common-sense approach is to avoid any scrambles on the mat, Mousasi did say that if the opportunity presented itself for him to finish the fight using his own grappling skills, he wouldn’t hesitate.

“Listen, if I hurt him and he gives something away, we’ve gotta go for it,” he said. “But the plan is to punch him and knock him out. That’s the whole plan.”

Saturday night’s bout against Lovato will be Mousasi’s 54th professional bout. And with three bouts remaining on his Bellator contract, the Dutchman says he’ll assess his performances in his next three outings before making any decisions on his future.

“There are options at light heavyweight for the belt, there’s options at welterweight,” he said. “If they pay me more, maybe I could try that and maybe get another belt, do something special. If not, I don’t care. I’ll just keep fighting these three fights. “I’m realistic. I’m not thinking of legacy, I’m just thinking of winning and staying healthy. I will look at the result of these three fights and see if I’m still at the top of the game. If I keep losing then I know I’m at the end of my career. But I keep winning now, so I’m not there, but I’ll see after three fights.

“This is just a job for me. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it – I hate it more than I love it. I get satisfaction for being able to provide for my family – that’s the thing I get the most out of it.

“Belts don’t mean anything to me. I like to win because I don’t want to disappoint people that like to support me and see me win. But other than that, it’s nothing special for me.”

And with his future planning penciled in for a date a little further down the line, Mousasi says his attention is firmly focused on the task at hand – turning back the challenge of Lovato and completing a second successive title defense.

“I see myself being too fast for him and too technical for him,” he said. “I see myself not putting myself in bad situations with him. But even if I do, I can handle it. I can get up, or I can make sure he cannot do anything to me on the ground.

“There are three things he has to do to win. He has to take me down, he has to keep me down, then he has to submit me. We are planning to stop him at stage one with my takedown defense. And I know I will be fine.”

For more on Bellator London, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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