When Gegard Mousasi announced that he would be leaving the UFC back in June, it felt like a real missed opportunity for both parties involved. “The Dreamcatcher” was riding a five fight win streak — the longest of his UFC career and the longest of his professional career since 2009 — at the time, during which he had run through names like Vitor Belfort, Uriah Hall, and Chris Weidman (the latter via a highly controversial TKO, but still).
He had fought in the co-main or main event slot in 11 out of his 12 appearances in the Octagon. He had even begun to develop, dare I say it, a personality that was connecting with fans. And yet, he and the UFC could not come to an agreement regarding what his “value” actually was.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Luckily, Mousasi was quickly scooped up by Bellator, joining such former UFC stars as Rory MacDonald and Lorenz Larkin in the promotion’s suddenly flourishing mid-tier divisions. It’s a move that has provided him with a lot of freedom, both in the cage and out. He may have 50 fights under his belt, but Mousasi has only just begun to wow us.
“I was able to bring my friends into Bellator,” said Mousasi in an exclusive interview with Uproxx.
“Maybe after I win the middleweight belt, I can go up to light heavyweight. You can have your own sponsors…you name it. If you want to have a crazy walk to the cage, you can do that. It’s not so many rules that you have to stick by. Everyone knows the UFC is very strict, even with walkouts. They want to have you coming out to tough, hard music. Bellator is a bit more free, and I think fighters appreciate that.”
A walkout music dilemma? It seems that Mousasi and MacDonald have even more in common that you’d think.
But while Gegard has become much more outspoken about his perceived treatment during his time with his former promotion in recent months, he doesn’t want to join the ranks of the UFC’s many disgruntled ex-employees.
“I am thankful. I don’t want to be a whiner, but there’s a lot of things that could’ve been handled better, that the fighters would’ve appreciated,” he added.
“They do what they like. They’re not going to ask the fighters what they think. If they would’ve asked the fighters about the Reebok deal, everyone would’ve said no. That’s the problem; you can’t take money out of the pockets of the fighters. Of course they’re going to be upset.”