News broke last night that UFC Middleweight title contender and former Strikeforce champ, Gegard Mousasi [42-6-2], had jumped ship from the UFC to Bellator after being offered a much better deal than the UFC proffered to keep him on their roster.
The Dutch/Iranian fighter has previous employment history with Scott Coker, having been signed to Strikeforce by him, and subsequently becoming that organisation’s Light heavyweight champion. He was also the DREAM Light heavyweight and Middleweight title holder, over in Japan.
Mousasi is currently riding a five win streak after defeating Chris Weidman at UFC 210 – the final fight of his contractual obligation with the promotion – but wasn’t happy witht the deal tabled by the UFC for further events. Speaking on UFC Tonight, Gegard said, “We want to sign with the UFC. UFC wants to sign also, so I don’t know. They should pay. I’m co-main event all the time, so it’s not like people don’t know me. (The offer) is not good. We don’t like it.”
Bellator were clearly in a more generous mood than the UFC – and, of course, Coker’s promotion comes with the added appeal of no sponsorship restrictions – doubtless a contributing factor in Mousasi’s decision to move to Bellator.
“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.”
I’m sure there will be a queue of fighters waiting to welcome such an high profile signing to the promotion – including former UFC stablemates.