Gegard Mousasi won the Bellator middleweight championship in impressive fashion this past Friday in London and it looks like a marquee matchup has been handed to the promotion on a silver platter.
Following his first-round TKO victory over Rafael Carvalho in the main event of Bellator 200, Mousasi reiterated his request for a long-desired matchup with welterweight champion Rory MacDonald. The two then had an exchange on Twitter confirming their shared interest.
@mousasi_mma congratulations on you dominant victory, @ScottCoker @rich_chou i know you wanted a title defense from me before challenging at middle weight. but myself vs @mousasi_mma is the fight to make right now, so lets make this happen!?
— Rory MacDonald (@rory_macdonald) May 25, 2018
Let’s do this, Champ. This is what the fans need. We are in.
— Gegard Mousasi (@mousasi_mma) May 26, 2018
Nothing is official yet, but MacDonald appeared on The MMA Hour on Tuesday to explain why making the match happen sooner rather than later would be best for business.
“The feeling I’m getting because I’ve been going back and forth with them a lot because I’m very interested and I’m pushing for this fight, so I’ve been messaging (Bellator president) Scott (Coker), messaging (Bellator vice president of talent relations) Richard Chou, and the feeling I’m getting from them is they don’t know,” MacDonald said. “I think they’re going to meet about it with everyone who makes those kinds of decisions and I think they’ll make an executive decision at that point.
“Obviously, me and Gegard want it and I think the fans want it. I think it would be the biggest fight that Bellator, that they could put on right now. In my opinion, if they pass this opportunity by, it would be a mistake because how often can you get this kind of timing and one fight could change the direction of any one of our careers, so I think the opportunity is now and we should take it.”
MacDonald and Mousasi have both gone 2-0 since making the jump from the UFC to Bellator, with MacDonald knocking off Paul Daley and Douglas Lima, and Mousasi defeating Alexander Shlemenko and Carvalho. They’ve mentioned wanting to fight each other on several occasions, though the rivalry has mostly been built on mutual respect.
So why is MacDonald seeking a battle with “The Dreamcatcher”?
“For multiple reasons,” MacDonald said. “Number one, it was my goal to be a champion of middleweight and welterweight. And then Gegard’s been hunting the fight between us, he wants to fight me and I obviously want what he has, so I think that’s great timing. He’s one of the best guys in the world at 185, so who better to fight for a world title at middleweight than him?”
During a six-year run with the UFC, MacDonald compiled a 9-4 record and challenged for the promotion’s welterweight title. He signed with Bellator in August 2016 and now finds himself with the opportunity to possibly hold belts in two divisions.
For their part, Bellator attempted to stir the pot between its two champions with a provocative tweet, which rubbed MacDonald the wrong way only because it didn’t tell the whole story.
seeing that youre promoting his challenge and calling me a chicken, which i already accepted the fight. @ScottCoker better put this fight together. lets get it signed and done with!
The ball is in your court now @BellatorMMA
— Rory MacDonald (@rory_macdonald) May 28, 2018
“I didn’t get too angry about it, I was just a little frustrated at the fact that they’re not guaranteeing me this fight, yet they’re promoting his challenge calling me a chicken so in a sense if they decide not to put this fight together, it could be perceived as like, I ducked his challenge, but I don’t want it to be like that,” MacDonald said. “I want it to be publicly known that I want this fight as much as much as Mousasi does. It really is in the hands of Bellator, that’s what I was trying to get across, that my decision, they know my decision on this. I want to be in there, Mousasi wants to be in there, so now Bellator has to get it done.”
MacDonald thinks that Bellator had other plans for both himself and Mousasi prior to Bellator 200 and that they’ll “have to go back to the drawing board” since Mousasi talked up a future meeting with MacDonald during fight week. There are credible challengers in Bellator’s 170-pound and 185-pound ranks, but few with the kind of name value that MacDonald and Mousasi bring to the cage.
Mousasi also appeared on The MMA Hour on Tuesday and given his chance to speak directly to MacDonald about the potential fight, he was in agreement that the ball is in Bellator’s court.
“Rory is a big name. It’s a fight that everyone wants to see,” Mousasi said. “I want to make the fight, I think Rory wants to make the fight. Rory started with wanting to come up in weight and we like the fight, so he said it and we replied a hundred times and now it’s not up to me, like Rory said, it’s up to Bellator.”