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Bellator 206: Gegard Mousasi vs. Rory MacDonald main event preview

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The main event of Bellator 206 is one of the best matchups that the promotion has ever booked. Middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2) defends his title for the first time, and it’s against the welterweight champion Rory MacDonald (20-4). If MacDonald wins, he’ll become the first simultaneous two-division champion in Bellator history, and regardless of the outcome, he’s slated to face Jon Fitch in the quarterfinals of the eight-man welterweight tournament.

These two former UFC standouts — in MacDonald’s case, a former title challenger — are two of Bellator’s bigger free-agent signings in recent years. Both men are still clearly top-10 in their respective divisions, and they have expressed mutual interest in facing each other. We can only hope it’s a memorable clash between highly skilled fighters. Bellator 206 takes place on Saturday, September 29th at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The main card begins on the DAZN streaming service at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, with prelims streaming on Bellator.com at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.

How do these two stack up?

Mousasi: 33 years old | 6’2” | 76” reach
MacDonald: 29 years old | 6’0” | 76” reach

Odds (via BestFightOdds)

Mousasi -225
MacDonald +246

What have these two done recently?

Mousasi: W – Rafael Carvalho (TKO) | W – Alexander Shlemenko (UD) | W – Chris Weidman (TKO)
MacDonald: W – Douglas Lima (UD) | W – Paul Daley (RNC) | L – Stephen Thompson (UD)

How did these two get here?

Gegard Mousasi has fought everywhere and for just about all the major promotions. He’s been in PRIDE, DREAM, Strikeforce, the UFC, and now Bellator. Mousasi won titles in DREAM and Strikeforce, but was unable to get a title fight in the UFC. However, he ended his time in the UFC with a four-fight winning streak, including finishes over Thiago Santos, Vitor Belfort, Uriah Hall, and a rather weird TKO vs. former champ Chris Weidman, who was actually struck by legal knees after initial confusion that the knees weren’t legal. Mousasi was Bellator-bound after the Weidman win, and he looked sluggish against Alexander Shlemenko, winning a unanimous decision but suffering a busted up eye in the process. He returned to dominant form at Bellator 200, stopping Rafael Carvalho with ground-and-pound to win Bellator gold. Mousasi has one of the better jabs in all of MMA, knockout power, submission skills, and is difficult to deal with when he has top control on the mat. Even through this seven-fight streak, and throughout his career, consistency in the cage has been an issue for the Moose.

Three years ago, MacDonald was one round away from becoming UFC champion by dethroning Robbie Lawler in an all-time classic. Instead, Lawler came back and stopped a bloodied and exhausted Canadian in the final round to defend his title. Defeat to Stephen Thompson followed almost a year later, and it proved to be his last appearance inside the Octagon. After taking time off to heal his busted nose, MacDonald made his Bellator debut in May 2017 and easily submitted Paul Daley in London. That earned him a title shot against Douglas Lima, and he endured insane leg kick punishment, controlled Lima enough on the ground to win a grueling decision. MacDonald is a methodical striker who doesn’t really wipe people out on the feet, but he has strong takedown defense and is a talented grappler who was good enough to survive full mount from Demian Maia. The big question is the status of his nose, which has been busted up in recent times and may be prone to falling apart on him again.

Why should you care?

I said it at the top, this is one of the best and most intriguing matchups in Bellator history. Both fighters possess excellent, well-rounded skills. It’ll be fascinating to see if this is a high-level chess match or if Mousasi is willing to test MacDonald’s historically astonishing durability, knowing Rory has never fought at 185 before and he himself has plenty of experience at light-heavyweight. Bellator should be commended for making this fight happen, and I know I’ll be tuning in tonight to see who prevails.


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