Bellator 275 isn’t Gegard Mousasi’s first rodeo, and the 57-fight veteran and reigning Bellator middleweight champion is in calm, relaxed mood ahead of his latest title defense.
Mousasi takes on undefeated 11-0 contender Austin Vanderford in the main event at the 3Arena in Dublin on Friday night, and the Dutchman said he’s looking forward to returning to a familiar venue for his upcoming assignment.
“I’ve been here before, I’ve fought twice already in Ireland and I’m excited to be here. Nice people here, very friendly and they are big fighting fans,” he said.
“I hope to perform well. I think the crowd will be on my side, but I don’t think competing here previously is an advantage.”
Vanderford represents a fresh new challenge for Mousasi, who said he has been impressed with his opponent’s performances inside the Bellator cage so far.
But, despite the challenger’s credentials, Mousasi said his team have told him he’s heading into the fight at his absolute peak.
“He’s an undefeated, 11-0 guy who is younger than me,” he explained.
“He’s confident, he feels he has something to prove, he’s fighting for the belt.
“I think I have a big task ahead of me. But my coaches told me I have never been stronger, God gave me special powers for this fight, and Austin’s going to feel it.
“Against the cage it’s possible I try to take him down, but he is a better wrestler than me. If I try to take him down and waste a lot of energy, that’s not very smart.
“I don’t need to try to take him down because he’s going to try and take me down the whole time. I just have to stuff a couple of them, then I will end up on top. My ground and pound is much better than his, that I know for sure. He’s in trouble.”
Mousasi is in his second run as Bellator middleweight champion, and said that the lessons learned from the end of his first title reign will stand him in good stead in his upcoming title defense.
“Fighting for so long I have learned a lot,” he said.
“When I fought (Rafael) Lovato Jr. I respected his jiu-jitsu too much. With King Mo, he was too strong, so I stayed down on the ground too long. When Chris Weidman took me down, I got up every single time.”
Mousasi’s focus is fixed on turning back the challenge of Vanderford on Friday night, but rumors have already linked him with a potential future title defense against former UFC middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero, who so far has looked to fight in the promotion’s 205-pound division.
Mousasi said he has no intention to move up a division for a bout, but also revealed that he’d happily face the Cuban powerhouse at 185 pounds.
“If I fight Yoel Romero, I fight him at middleweight,” he stated.
“It’s up to Bellator if they want to make that fight. If they give me the fight, I’ll take it.”
Bellator 275/Bellator Dublin: Fight Card
- Gegard Mousasi (c) vs. Austin Vanderford – for middleweight title
- Sinead Kavanagh vs. Leah McCourt
- Ciaran Clarke vs. Abou Tounkara
- Khasan Magomedsharipov vs. Jose Sanchez
- Brian Moore vs. Jornel Lugo
- Brett Johns vs. Khurshed Kakhorov
- Charlie Leary vs. Davy Gallon
- Danni McCormack vs. Stephanie Page
- Darragh Kelly vs. Junior Morgan
- Vladimir Tokov vs. Danielle Scatizzi
- Gorkhan Saricam vs. Kirill Sidelnikov
- Nathan Kelly vs. Scott Pedersen
- Lee Hammond vs. Jamie Hay