Gegard Mousasi fended off the relentless wrestling attack of No. 1 contender John Salter, and was then rewarded with a title defence against another grappling specialist, undefeated contender Austin Vanderford.

Mousasi finished Salter via TKO in the third round in the main event of Bellator 264 to retain his title at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

“He’s a southpaw so everything is more difficult. It was a little bit more difficult to get my punches in, but other than that I felt good,” said Mousasi. 

“I’m way stronger than people think. Maybe I look skinny but I’m a lot stronger and physically I was the stronger guy in there. 

“On top, I felt like I could just pressure him, put my weight on him and hurt him with my punches (and) make him feel the pressure. 

“It was a five-rounder so in my mind, I’m saying ‘Okay, don’t do everything now because we can go five.’”

Mousasi then faced off with 11-0 contender Vanderford, who said he wouldn’t tire as quickly as Salter did against the Dutchman on Friday night.

“Let’s go! Mister VanZant, baby!” said Vanderford, who is married to female MMA star and Bare Knuckle fighter Paige VanZant.

“I ain’t gonna get tired like that. All respect to John Salter, but I’m gonna be able to put that pace on for five rounds.”

Photo credit: Bellator MMA/Lucas Noonan