Gegard Mousasi ‘more nervous than normal’ for Bellator 200 title fight vs. Rafael Carvalho
LONDON – More than 50 bouts into his professional career, Bellator middleweight title challenger Gegard Mousasi isn’t immune to pre-fight jitters.
“I’m more nervous than normal, especially coming off a fight like my previous fight,” Mousasi told reporters prior to his fight with middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho, which headlines Bellator 200 on Friday at The SSE Arena in London. “But I know once the cage door closes, everything goes automatic. So I don’t worry about it.”
Mousasi has been around long enough to experience the wild swings that accompany a long career in MMA. Still, he isn’t pleased by his win over ex-champ Alexander Shlemenko, which served as his promotional debut this past October after a highly publicized defection from the UFC.
Even though he suffered a serious eye injury that bothers him to this day, Mousasi views his follow-up as a chance to prove he’s more than someone who merely survived a tough opponent.
Although Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) might have some nerves about being his best on fight night, he’s not particularly concerned about what Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) brings to the table. Mousasi isn’t impressed by what he’s seen from the Brazilian champ despite three title defenses. What he sees is a one-sided fighter vulnerable to different attacks.
“I have a lot of advantages, because he’s not a wrestler,” Mousasi said. “He’s not really a jiu-jitsu guy. He doesn’t push the pace, so it’s an advantage for me. I have my game plan.”
Carvalho’s height and length is about the only thing that gives Mousasi pause. He’s come in lighter than usual to be the faster fighter, which he figures will give him another edge if the clash goes the distance.
“I heard he has difficulties with weight cuts, because he’s so big,” Mousasi said. “Strength won’t be a factor in this fight, I believe. So speed is on my side. I feel like I will be the stronger fighter.”
Over 15 years of experience haven’t numbed Mousasi to the awareness that a major title is on the line when he steps into the cage on Friday. A decorated run in the UFC did not lead to a belt; it’s been seven years since he walked into a fight as a titleholder. Winning the Bellator middleweight championship would validate his move.
Carvalho is waiting to spoil that scenario, so it’s up to Mousasi to put all that cage time to use.
For more on Bellator 200, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.