You can officially add Gegard Mousasi to the growing list of stars the UFC is willing to let bounce to Bellator MMA.
On Monday, Mousasi announced via his verified Twitter account that he has signed a multi-fight contract to join the UFC’s biggest rival.
— Gegard Mousasi (@mousasi_mma) July 10, 2017
(Must be a photo op, because if you look closely the paper Mousasi is signing is blank)
At the time of publication, Mousasi was slotted at #4 on the UFC’s meaningless middleweight rankings.
Mousasi rolled the dice on himself in April’s pivotal UFC 210 scarp against Chris Weidman. Instead of inking what he perceived to be a low contract extension from the UFC before the bout, he gambled that an impressive win over the former champ would increase his leverage at the negotiating table.
After plastering Weidman, which marked Mousasi’s fifth consecutive victory, with the last four of those coming via TKO finish, the UFC never offered Mousasi a deal to his liking.
Perhaps the unexpected emergence of Robert Whittaker, who captured the vacant interim middleweight belt Saturday at UFC 213 by beating Yoel Romero, made Mousasi expendable in the UFC’s eyes.
Bellator’s biggest advantage over the UFC is that they allow their fighters to secure their own sponsorships, instead of being forced to exclusively wear Reebok during UFC fight week for peanuts.
Ryan Bader, who also recently left the UFC in favor of Bellator, claimed he made four times more in sponsorship money for June’s Bellator debut than what he received from Reebok under the UFC’s watch. Bader dethroned Phil Davis, another UFC castoff, to capture the light heavyweight title at Bellator NYC.
Mousasi could likely enjoy a similar endorsement increase. However, it will be interesting to see if that is enough to close the gap from what Bellator is paying him and what the UFC offered.
With this move, Mousasi reunites with Bellator president Scott Coker, who held the same position at Strikeforce when Mousasi was staring as the promotion’s middleweight champion.
Despite his extensive 42-6-2 professional record, Mousasi will only turn 32 at the beginning of next month.
It is unknown when Mousasi will make his Bellator debut.