September 27, 2022

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Bellator 264 — Can two-time champ Gegard Mousasi solidify his standing at the top rated of the mountain?

Mohegan Sun Arena is an ocean absent from Gegard Mousasi’s hometown in the Netherlands. But the casino vacation resort location in Uncasville, Connecticut, has provided him with the consolation of house.

Mousasi designed his Bellator debut in the building in 2017, defeating previous middleweight winner Alexander Shlemenko. That attained the previous UFC contender and Strikeforce and Aspiration champ a title combat, which he gained — not at Mohegan. But Mousasi was again in people common surroundings all over again past Oct, by then more than a year taken out from possessing dropped the Bellator belt. On a crisp New England tumble night time, Mousasi experienced a probability to reclaim his championship. He seized the option.

In a struggle for the vacant 185-pound title, Mousasi defeated then-welterweight-champ Douglas Lima to turn into a two-time Bellator champion.

This Friday in Uncasville, in the most important party of Bellator 264, Mousasi makes the first title protection of his next reign. He’ll get on a sizzling John Salter, who is 8-1 in Bellator with all but one particular of his wins coming by finish.

Over the past 13 months, as the coronavirus pandemic has minimal Bellator’s skill to set on its typical traveling demonstrate, the enterprise has held 19 fight playing cards at the location on the Mohegan Indian Reservation in southeastern Connecticut. The event two weeks in the past in Los Angeles, at which A.J. McKee received the Bellator Featherweight Globe Grand Prix by dethroning Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, was the firm’s very first card in the United States in about a year that was not at Mohegan Sun, ending a operate of 14 displays in a row at the arena. Immediately after Friday, Bellator will undertaking off to phase fights in South Dakota, London, Phoenix, Moscow and Dublin.

But prior to leaving “house,” Bellator and its middleweight winner have company to just take care of. Listed here are three issues that Bellator 264 may possibly response.

Can Mousasi solidify his standing at the top rated of the mountain this time?

Mousasi was 15 several years into his MMA occupation when, at age 32 and in his 52nd professional battle, he grew to become winner with a very first-spherical TKO of Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 200 in May 2018. But barely a calendar year later on, soon after just a single thriving title defense, Mousasi dropped the belt by vast majority final decision to Rafael Lovato Jr.

Mousasi’s downfall? Lovato, a numerous-time jiu-jitsu world winner, took the Dutchman to the canvas once again and again, controlling him there and sapping Mousasi’s energy.

Now Mousasi has the belt back again and starts his reign with a title defense versus another grappler. Salter, 36, received a NAIA national championship in wrestling in 2007. That very same year, he also was a North American Grappling Affiliation countrywide champ. In MMA, he has submissions in 10 of his 18 victories, including 7 of his past 9.

Mousasi is properly mindful of what he is up against. He prefers to dwell on the hazard he offers to Salter.

“This man demands the takedowns to gain the combat. I’m not likely to lay down and battle from my back,” Mousasi informed reporters this 7 days. “My system is to get proper back again up and, if it can be essential, fight him. If it demands to be a complex standing up [fight], I you should not consider he can hang with me there.”

As for the renewed strain of defending a championship, Mousasi has an attention-grabbing just take. “I hardly ever imagined, ‘Oh, I’m defending my belt.’ It really is just, ‘Focus on my opponent,'” he explained. “On paper, the belt is on the line. But if you action in the cage, you will find not a belt waving there. You do not see a belt, so it is just, ‘Focus on the opponent.'”

Someone’s “1” has got to … be undone. So who’ll it be?

Magomed Magomedov is 18-1 and has gained 5 fights in a row, like two Bellator victories through the eight months he’s been with the marketing. For the 29-calendar year-outdated Dagestani bantamweight, who trains under coach Mark Henry in New Jersey, the only loss of his job arrived by selection in 2017 to Petr Yan, despite the fact that Magomedov also owns a victory above the former UFC winner.

Raufeon Stots is 16-1 and using an eight-struggle successful streak, which includes a 4- operate considering that becoming a member of Bellator in 2019. The lone defeat for the 32-yr-aged from Houston, a two-time NCAA Division 2 nationwide winner wrestler, was also in 2017. His loss arrived through a spinning backfist just 15 seconds into a fight with Merab Dvalishvili, who now is a UFC contender and No. 10 in the ESPN men’s bantamweight rankings.

This clash could extremely effectively make the first title challenger for Sergio Pettis, who received the Bellator bantamweight belt in May.

That could show to be sophisticated if Stots wins on Friday as Stots and Pettis both of those coach underneath Duke Roufus at his Milwaukee gym, Roufusport. Nonetheless, Stots will not allow for that to derail his pursuit of gold.

“I do not want to fight my teammate Sergio,” he stated this week. “But I realize. If I have to struggle him, I will struggle him.”

Then once again, you can find been speculation that the bantamweight division might be following for a Bellator Grand Prix event.

“The Grand Prix would be an possibility to get my palms on additional persons just before finding to the belt,” Stots claimed. “And also that million-greenback prize at the conclusion is, I suggest — A.J. looked real pleasant with a million-dollar check out next to him.”

Will Pam Sorenson inject a small life into the women’s featherweight division?

At age 35, Sorenson is just not just new blood. But she is an ex-champ in Invicta FC who signed with Bellator above the summertime and makes her debut this weekend. With a dominant performance in opposition to Roberta Samad, Sorenson could come across herself instantly in position for a major opportunity.

The Bellator women’s featherweight division has a thing in prevalent with the UFC’s pounds class at 145 kilos: They are each awfully thin. Cris Cyborg is the Bellator champ, and there is also previous titlist Julia Budd. But Budd, who lost her belt to Cyborg previous calendar year and has bounced back again with two wins given that then, not too long ago disclosed she is a free of charge agent. She’s explained she is thinking about the UFC and PFL.

If Budd moves on, that would leave the division in dire need to have of Cyborg challengers. There’d be just Cat Zingano and … whom else? Maybe Pam Sorenson.

Friday’s battle lineup

Showtime, 9 p.m. ET
Gegard Mousasi (c) vs. John Salter | Middleweight championship
Andrey Koreshkov vs. Sabah Homasi | Welterweight
Raufeon Stots vs. Magomed Magomedov | Bantamweight
Davion Franklin vs. Everett Cummings | Heavyweight
Ty Gwerder vs. KhadzhiBestaev | Middleweight
Showtime and Bellator YouTube pages, 6 p.m., ET
Pam Sorenson vs. Roberta Samad | Women’s featherweight
Danny Sabatello vs. Johnny Campbell | Bantamweight
Justin Montalvo vs. Kendly St. Louis | Light-weight
Nekruz Mirkhojaev vs. James Adcock | Men’s featherweight
Sebastian Ruiz vs. Jeffrey Glossner | 142-pound contract bodyweight
Orlando Mendoza vs. Jon McNeil | 195-pound agreement pounds
(c) = defending champion