In a huge upset for UFC fans, Gegard Mousasi just announced his new 6 fight contract with Bellator and opened up to Crushit MMA on his interactions with the new UFC brass WME-IMG, and how there’s a big disconnect between the owners\ and their fighters.
Once the UFC learned of Mousasi’s Bellator contract, they counter offered by giving him former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 215. In addition, they offered more money and ultimately tried to keep Mousasi in the UFC family. Mousasi’s manager Nima Safapour explained the difference was more than just money, Bellator’s offer included greater perks and ultimately gave Mousasi more freedom to drive his fight career the way he wants to.
“And they fought for the deal up to the very end. They deserve a tremendous amount of credit for trying to make this deal, even if they came up short.”
On top of his salary, which is undisclosed, he’ll also be taking a cut of any PPV events he participates in. Since he no longer has to participate in the Reebok fighter sponsorship program, which would only pay him $10,000, he can now negotiate deals with sponsors of his own.
“They gave me $10,000 for Reebok,” Mousasi said. “Ten-thousand dollars. What can I do with that? Even if I don’t make $10,000, I’m not required to do anything (with Bellator). I can do whatever I like. I’m more happy about that than the $10,000 I get – it’s a slap in the face. (Reebok is) literally stealing from the fighters.”
Eluding to possibly participating in European Boxing Matches, Mousasi’s Bellator contract gives him the choice to do so. They added, it wouldn’t be for any of the promotions offered on UFC Fight Pass, but would probably take place in Russia. His new contract also gives him the right to request additional drug-testing of an opponent if he feels they are trying to cheat. Bellator utilizes the UFC standard USADA Anti-Doping Agency, but additional testing can be required.
As for timing and potential opponents for his inaugural fight, Mousasi expects to compete in September or October and talked about fighters in both the middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions.
“Even Wanderlei (Silva) because of his name. Quinton Jackson. I don’t know. I can bounce around divisions. But I’m going to get the middleweight belt first, and I think Rory MacDonald is a good fight. People would love to see that. But my goal is to win the belt.”
A goal he achieved in Scott Coker’s previous MMA promotion, Strikeforce, which was bought by the UFC and absorbed it’s best fighters. Mousasi was brought in and has since climbed his way to the top of the ranks by taking out 5 consecutive opponents, with the last being a controversial stoppage against Chris Weidman.
“One fight before my contract expired, I believe they would have pushed bigger negotiations, and it would have been different. But this company, they have a lot of debt. That’s not the fighters’ fault that they’re cutting staff and cutting fighters’ money. That’s not our problem.”
Mousasi joins the ranks of former UFC fighters-turned-Bellator like Matt Mitrione, Anthony Davis, Ryan Bader and potential opponent Rory MacDonald.