You can now go ahead and add 31-year-old MMA veteran Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) to the growing list of high-profile fighters who have jumped ship from the UFC to Bellator since Scott Coker got behind the wheel.
The now former number 4 ranked middleweight on the UFC roster will carry a 5-fight winning streak into the promotion that includes finishes over Chris Weidman, Vitor Belfort, Thiago Santos and a quick venging of a previous loss to Uriah Hall.
MMAJunkie’s Chamatkar Sandhu reported the news of the signing just moments ago. The folks over at Kimura Crew went on to report that the UFC “didn’t see value” in a Mousasi, a proven headliner who has finished 34 fights during his 14-year career in the sport.
Bellator’s middleweight division isn’t exactly the deepest right now with names like current champion Rafael Carvalho, Melvin Manheof, Alexander Shlemenko, Kendall Grove and Hisaki Kato ready to welcome Mousasi into the cage. Mousasi has also competed at light heavyweight and heavyweight which opens up plenty of options for “The Dreamcatcher” in the next chapter of his storied career.
UPDATE: Bellator MMA sent us the following press release moments ago:
LOS ANGELES — Bellator MMA is proud to announce the signing of perennial top contender Gegard Mousasi to an exclusive, multi-fight contract.
Long-considered to be one of the elite two-division threats in MMA, Mousasi joins Bellator currently riding a five-fight win streak that includes recent knockout victories over two former world champions in Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. Prior to his UFC tenure, Mousasi captured the STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight title, as well as the DREAM light heavyweight and middleweight titles in Japan. The signing sees Mousasi rejoin Bellator President Scott Coker following his successful run with STRIKEFORCE from 2009-2013.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Gegard to the growing Bellator family,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “He’s one of the most well-rounded fighters in all of MMA and can compete in multiple divisions, so that really opens up some exciting matchmaking opportunities for us and for the fans. We’re looking forward to having him compete on Spike very soon.”
“I am looking forward to fighting in Bellator,” added Mousasi. “I have a long-standing relationship with Scott Coker that goes back many years. Be ready, I am coming after the Bellator middleweight championship.”
The Iranian-born Mousasi, who currently trains out of The Netherlands, has amassed an overall career record of 42-6-2 and has earned victories over some of the sports’ biggest names, including Dan Henderson, “Jacare” Souza, Mark Hunt, Ovince Saint-Preux, Melvin Manhoef, Hector Lombard and “Babalu” Sobral. The addition of Mousasi adds depth to an ever-growing Bellator roster, which has recently seen free agents Rory MacDonald, Lorenz Larkin, Michael McDonald and current Bellator light heavyweight champ Ryan Bader join the Viacom-owned promotion.
image credit – Esther Lin/Strikeforce