The UFC has lost one of the top ranked middleweights to rival promotion Bellator MMA, it was confirmed on Monday.
Mousasi announced on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani that he has signed a deal with Bellator, following a report from MMAJunkie’s Chamatkar Sandhu earlier in the day (via MMAFighting):
“I’m looking forward to be champion there,” said Mousasi, who added he signed a six-fight deal with Bellator. “If I achieve that, I look forward to going a division up and getting the 205 belt. But first the middleweight belt. That’s my goal.”
Mousasi, a former Strikeforce and Dream light heavyweight champion, is currently riding a five-fight winning streak which looked set to push him into title contention in the UFC’s middleweight division. Despite this, Mousasi feels that the move to Bellator is the right one, especially sine he will be once again by working alongside Scott Coker, who promoted Mousasi at Strikeforce:
“It’s not just basically the money,” Mousasi said. “Like I said, I’ve worked with Scott. When Scott promises something, he delivers. He’s an honest guy. He’s a mixed martial artist himself. He treats fighters with respect.”
Another factor which was influential in Mousasi’s decision was watching Robert Whittaker awarded an interim title bout against #1 contender Yoel Romero:
“I thought I was ahead of him,” Mousasi said of Whittaker. “That’s my opinion. I respect Whittaker a lot, he’s nice guy. Congratulations for winning the belt. I think if they would have come and said, ‘You’re fighting for the interim belt,’ things would have gotten more interesting to me.”
While the UFC middleweight division is not lacking talent by any long stretch, it is disappointing to see someone of Mousasi’s caliber leaving the promotion.