Gegard Mousasi, who suffered an eye injury in his last bout, is just a day away from stepping back into the cage.
The UFC veteran meets middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho in the Bellator 200 main event Friday in London. About 10 months after signing with Bellator, it is Mousasi’s second fight under the Viacom-backed promotion. He became a free agent after an April 2017 UFC bout and left after a four-year stint.
Mousasi won his Bellator debut last October, but it wasn’t easy, nor did he come out of the bout unscathed. Against former champ Alexander Shlemenko, Mousasi suffered a broken orbital bone that would be closed shut for multiple days after the close decision nod. It didn’t require surgery, but it still took a couple months to recover.
But now, six months after the Shlemenko bout, Mousasi is set to return — with hopes of becoming Bellator champion.
“I had to give my eye time to recover. So that’s what we did,” Mousasi told BloodyElbow.com. “It took some time.
“This timing was good. I could have fought here or L.A. — that was two options for me. Bellator decided to have the fight in London. It took a couple months before the eye was better. I needed the time to recover. If I [fought earlier], then I would’ve rushed it. Some injuries, it’s trauma, so even if you’re healed up, if you think about it, it’s gonna affect the way you’re gonna fight. If you [think], ‘I’m injured,’ you might fight very differently. I think it was good to take the time.”
Mousasi took more damage than usual against Shlemenko. The Netherlands native is not exactly used to getting beat up. He was in the hospital after the fight, and for a while, didn’t know what would happen with his injured eye — in fact, he initially thought he might lose it. Mousasi said his Bellator debut “took a lot out of me.”
So much so that it started making him think about retirement. Mousasi signed a six-fight contract with Bellator last year, and thus has five fights left, including the upcoming Carvalho title fight. After those five fights, Mousasi said, he will consider hanging up his gloves and moving on from MMA.
“After five fights — it’s gonna take two, three years — I’m gonna be a little bit older,” Mousasi said. “I was thinking for retirement, to be honest, after five fights.”
Mousasi said his last fight made him stop and think about potential consequences of fighting, such as brain damage.
“Fighting is always a risky business; it’s not the easiest way to make money,” he said. “You have to think about your health. You don’t want to have brain damage and all that stuff. That fight, it made me stop for a while, a little bit, maybe.”
That said, if Mousasi wins his next five fights with relative ease, don’t be surprised if he ends up renewing his deal with Bellator. He said he “could easily continue” fighting if he chooses to, simply because he hasn’t taken much damage throughout his veteran career.
“Let’s say if I win the next five fights, you’re not gonna think about retirement,” Mousasi said. “It’s too soon to say it. Two, three victories, a whole different attitude of what I’m going to do next.”
Before anything, Mousasi challenges Carvalho for the 185-pound belt, and then he wants to go on and have a superfight with welterweight champ — and fellow former UFC fighter — Rory MacDonald. He wants to “make a legacy” by winning his next five fights, and then “go from there.”
“For now, I’m just thinking about winning this fight,” he said. “I’m taking it fight by fight. I’m in my prime. You have to understand, I feel like I’m in my prime. I’m not slowing down, I’m not getting beat up, I’m not losing, I’m not getting knocked out. I should be able to continue as much as I want, to be honest.”
About the author