After failing to come to terms with the UFC, Gegard Mousasi has decided to team up with Scott Coker once more by signing a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA.
‘The Dreamcatcher’ is currently ranked #4 on the UFC’s middleweight ranking and also holds a five-fight winning streak over the likes of former UFC champions Vitor Belfort and Chris Weidman.
Confirming earlier reports to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Mousasi outlined how talks fell apart between himself and the UFC.
“I went to the [UFC Athlete] retreat because I wanted to have a meeting with Dana White (UFC president) and UFC lawyers,” Mousasi explained. “We were close. We negotiated up until the end but the best choice for me was to go to Bellator.”
“I worked before with Scott Coker so I have no problems going with Bellator. I know how I’m going to get treated in Bellator and the opportunities I’ll get there. After the [Chris Weidman] fight, all the options were open and I wanted to have the best deal for me and at the end, Bellator was the better offer for me.
“The UFC was getting close to the Bellator offer at the end but it’s not just the money. I’ve worked with Scott; when Scott promises you something, he delivers. He’s an honest guy, he treats fighters with respect and that’s one of the things that was very important for me to go to Bellator. The money wasn’t just the factor. You’ve never heard one fighter talk bad about Scoott Coker.”
The Dutch fighter had previously talked of his want to re-sign with the UFC but was publicly honest about his disappointment with their offer.
““We want to sign with the UFC,” Mousasi had told ‘UFC Tonight’. “UFC wants to sign also, so I don’t know. They should pay. I’m co-main event all the time, so it’s not like people don’t know me. [The offer] is not good. We don’t like it.”
With the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion now signed to Bellator however, Mousasi would go on to explain on The MMA Hour why his desire to stay with the WME-IMG banner waned in recent time.
“The UFC had always treated me well to be honest. Dana White has alwasy talked good about me. I’m thankful to them. I’m at this point because they gave me the opportunities to be where I’m at now,” Mousasi said. “The thing is with the middleweight division, (Robert) Whittaker won against Jacare (Souza) and he skipped three places in the rankings and fought for the interim title. I thought I was ahead of him, that’s my opinion. I respect Whittaker, congratulations for winning the belt but I think if they would have come to me and said ‘You’re fighting for the interim belt’ things would have been more interesting to me. Those things matter.”
Joining the likes of Rory MacDonald and Ryan Bader to jump ship from the UFC, Mousasi spoke glowingly of his new promotion and the ‘more open minded’ approach that Bellator would afford him.
“Eventually, maybe, a fight against Rory MacDonald is a possibility. It’s the same thing the UFC did, Michael Bisping vs Georges St-Pierre but I think me versus MacDonald would be much better because we are both in our primes,” Mousasi said. “It creates oportunites. I get something to say. I can say I want to go up a division, there’s superfights to be made. I could fight Wanderlei (Silva), not because he’s in his prime but because he has a big name. I could even fight heavyweight, I’m open to it. Thats the good thing about Bellator, I can ask for things. It’s more open minded. The UFC is very strict about those things… those things make me happy to go to Bellator.
“To be honest, my feeling was to go with Bellator all the way from the beginning. I’ve worked with Scott before… with Bellator I can grow with the company. Why would a fighter choose to not go to Bellator where they would be treated better. I want to do my part to make Bellator bigger.”
Mousasi would also speak about his hopes to fight Bellator’s middleweight champion, Rafael Calvalho, and light heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader, during his Bellator tenure but provided a succint summary of the news that he has signed with Bellator MMA:
“I’m here to fight. I’m a fighter. I believe I will be champion there. I believe I could have been champion in the UFC also. I’ll take whoever they put in front of me.”
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage Jackson the new main event at Bellator 192
Bellator is getting ready to kick off their heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 192 on January 20th. The grand prix gets started with two former UFC greats who have now set their sights on Bellator gold, Chael Sonnen and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Today it was announced that this heavyweight matchup of two ordinarily light heavyweights will be getting the bump up to the main event. The reason for the change has not been announced.
Can confirm via @BellatorMMA President Scott Coker, the main event of #Bellator192 will be Chael Sonnen vs Rampage Jackson with Douglas Lima vs Rory MacDonald WW Title Fight as the co-headliner. #MMA @sonnench
— Steven Muehlhausen (@SMuehlhausenMMA) January 12, 2018
The main event was scheduled to be the much anticipated welterweight matchup between champion Douglas Lima and former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald. Bellator has been promoting this event as such the welterweight title fight would get top billing. Earlier this week the fighters involved in the main and co-main event were part of a conference call. At the time there was no mention of the switch to the lineup.
This fight between Sonnen and Jackson is just the first in a series of heavyweight fights leading up to the crowning of the Bellator heavyweight championship in December. There has been great interest shown in this heavyweight grand prix between fans and media, which could attribute to the last minute change.
Lima vs. MacDonald will now serve as the co-main event on January 20th. Lima, who has been with Bellator since 2011 has been accused of being overlooked by the organization. He has held the welterweight title since November 2016 and perhaps has not gotten the showcases he deserves. This event will take place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Bellator announces longtime referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy to join broadcast team
After the announcement last week that Bellator would be parting ways with their longtime color commentary man Jimmy Smith, Bellator has now found their replacement. Bellator announced Tuesday through a press release that they have signed well known MMA referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy to fill the void left by Smith.
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) January 9, 2018
McCarthy will be making his commentary debut on January 20th at the much anticipated Bellator 192: Lima vs. MacDonald at The Forum in California. McCarthy will join the likes of Chael Sonnen, as Bellator has also extended his contract as well. The two will be added to the broadcast team that already included former UFC broadcaster Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo.
“With the addition of ‘Big’ John to our broadcast team, we have put together the premier group of MMA commentators ahead of our Jan. 20 debut on the Paramount Network,” Bellator President Scott Coker said via the press release. “With John and Chael providing analysis, you’re getting two people who have spent more time in the cage than they have spent with a headset on, and that will translate to a positive viewing experience for Bellator fans.”
McCarthy has been seen inside the cage for the last 20 years. He is most likely the most recognized referee in MMA. In addition to refereeing, McCarthy is the founder of a program called “C.O.M.M.A.N.D.” This program trains and certifies future MMA referees and judges.
“I first want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity I have been given to work with the incredible team Bellator has assembled. It is always so hard to leave something you love, but I have always wanted to step away based on my terms rather than someone else’s. My goals are to work as hard as I can to meet the expectations everyone will have for me and to hopefully someday exceed them.” McCarthy said via the press release. “I cannot think of anyone I would rather be working with than Scott Coker. Scott has always been a person I admire because of his honesty, loyalty, and love for the martial arts. I want to thank everyone from Bellator and Viacom for the trust you are bestowing upon me to keep the commentating of Bellator MMA at the highest levels of the sport.”
Bellator is in the midst of transitioning their live broadcasts from Spike TV to the new Paramount network.
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