Gegard Mousasi’s rise in Bellator should not be a surprise to anyone, and the feat shouldn’t be discredited because it wasn’t accomplished in the UFC. The champion status that came to fruition in Bellator was a long time coming, and we all knew it was a matter of “when” and not “if.” Since his arrival in the organization in 2017, all of his fights except for two — his first against former Bellator middleweight champ Alexander Shlemenko and the most recent a sequel bout against Lyoto Machida — under the Viacom-CBS entity have been bouts with the title on the line. The trend continues at Bellator 250, where Mousasi clashes with Douglas Lima for the vacant middleweight championship.
It was not for a lack of effort that Mousasi didn’t become a champion in the UFC. For the first and only time in his career, he didn’t capture the belt like he did in other major organizations like Dream, Strikeforce and Cage Warriors despite possessing a 9-3 mark in the sport’s biggest spotlight. This included a five-fight winning streak in which he feasted on the cream of the crop. He put away former middleweight champion Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort, and he scored a redemption victory against Uriah Hall after succumbing to a spinning back kick knockout blow in their initial encounter less than a year prior.
Mousasi has known nothing but chaos his entire career. What Lima has in store for him will not faze the man hailing from the Netherlands. He remains calm when caught in the middle of a firestorm during fights, which was well demonstrated in his promotional debut against the aforementioned Shlemenko at Bellator 185. Mousasi’s right eye began to swell shut after a scramble just 50 seconds into the fight and yet he still made the Russian’s life a living hell with countless submission attempts en route to a unanimous-decision win.
What’s brewing in this upcoming scrap between Lima and Mousasi is a contest with the potential to be one of the best superfights ever put together in Bellator’s 11-year history. The two men have been training to fight each other since the beginning of 2020. Lima has essentially cleaned out the welterweight division under his watch and is ready for a new challenge. Since his fight against Charles Blanchard at King of the Cage: Invincible in Atlanta, this will be the first time in 11 years that Lima will compete at middleweight.
Bellator 250, which features two additional main-card bouts, takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Thursday, Oct. 29. The main card is scheduled for an 8 p.m. ET broadcast on the CBS Sports Network and DAZN. The prelims begin at 5:15 p.m. ET and can be seen online on Bellator MMA’s YouTube Channel and DAZN.
Douglas Lima has come to dominate Bellator’s welterweight division, but now he’s stepping up to middleweight to compete for the vacant title against UFC veteran Gegard Mousasi. Who emerges with the gold, and how do they get there?
Lima has been on a tear of epic proportions. He has lost just three fights, all by points, through the 21 outings he’s had in the last decade. Except for his fight against Ben Askren in a welterweight title match in 2012, he has avenged those losses. He scored a redemption win over Rory MacDonald and bested Andrey Koreshkov twice in their trilogy history. He is good and comfortable in all situations that he could find himself in.
Lima, however, has only fought at middleweight twice in his career, and that’s if you include his 180-pound catchweight bout against Kobe Ortiz at Bellator 79 in 2012. There’s some question as to whether the power in his hands will still be there when he is 15 pounds heavier. Two fights is a very small sample size, after all. While he did eventually stop the aforementioned Ortiz with 10 seconds left to spare in the third and final round, there were a couple of mistakes that, if he were to repeat them against Mousasi, could prove to be costly. For one, he was a very easy target for Ortiz to touch with a jab, because he would stand stagnant for too long and not move his head very well to present a more dynamic and difficult target.
Mousasi is one of the most productive fighters when it comes to landing clean jabs that, if not addressed quickly by the opposition, could lead to fatigue and prove as a useful tool in the championship rounds. This is what allowed Mousasi to come back in the third and fourth rounds against Rafael Lovato Jr. in their middleweight championship bout at Bellator 223 after handily dropping the first two rounds. With that being said, Mousasi should look to push the tempo early and be aggressive if he wants to win against Lima if it goes to the scorecards instead of ending in a stoppage.
Henry Corrales is on a two-fight skid. Is Bellator throwing him a bone by pairing him with Brandon Girtz?
By evaluating Corrales’ resume and documenting the trends we’ve seen from his fights, it definitely appears that his bout against Girtz is meant to get him back in the win column. It was no fluke that he became the featherweight and bantamweight champion for King of the Cage early on in his MMA career. He just hasn’t been successful when being drawn to fight against the best Bellator has to offer. This is due to no fault of his own, as he’s been understandably touted as the betting underdog against the impenetrable Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, current Bellator bantamweight king Juan Archuleta, and former two-time featherweight champ Daniel Straus.
If Corrales drops this fight against Girtz, then he risks tying his career high in consecutive losses at three. However, more often than not, he rises to the occasion. After his loss to Pitbull in the aforementioned Bellator 153 tilt in 2016, Corrales responded by rattling off five wins in a row, with three coming via finish by way of strikes. One of these victories was a knockout of Aaron Pico in the first round in the co-headliner of Bellator 214.
Girtz, like Corrales, has been faced with hard times, but that’s only because the level of competition he has faced was higher than the fighters he usually takes on. From then-undefeated prospects in Adam Piccolotti and Derek Anderson to a champion in Michael Chandler, Girtz has been standing across the cage from some heavy hitters. He’s also found success against bigger names like Saad Awad and Derek Campos. In that sense, both guys are chomping at the bit to prove themselves here.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
If you have been sleeping on him ever since his first professional fight for Shamrock FC when he put away Wayne Collier in 61 seconds, then you’ve missed a lot of what Johnny Eblen has accomplished in the three years that he has been competing in the sport. He is undefeated in six fights as a pro coming out of American Top Team, and nine bouts if you include his three tuneups as an amateur dating back to 2016. Eblen will face 2019 Dana White’s Contender Series combatant Taylor Johnson on Thursday. Johnson has an impressive array of poisonous approaches that led to a round-one heel hook win against another strong wrestler in Ed Ruth last month.
Eblen always had his sights on a major promotion like Bellator or the UFC. In the post-fight interview of his third straight of four first-round finishes, which came against Wayman Carter, he acknowledged that as the goal. Every statistic was pointing in Carter’s favor against Eblen. Carter had 13 more fights under his belt, was three inches taller, and had a six and a half inch reach advantage. Despite this, Eblen managed to score a single-leg takedown against him and was in the dominant position for the majority of the contest. Eblen was ultimately picked up by Bellator after four fights in Shamrock FC.
Eblen’s strength is remarkable, and there is no question that his accomplished amateur fight credentials as a top-10 nationally ranked wrestler in his senior year for Missouri University and a Missouri state champion in high school has played a role in this. While he went through all six rounds across his two fights in Bellator, this doesn’t mean he wasn’t dominant. His fights took place at Bellator 218 and Bellator 229 respectively. Eblen never lost any of those rounds and cruised to back-to-back decision victories. He made himself look like a human forklift as he picked up the 185-pound Chauncey Foxworth with ease and at one point ducked a wheel kick to land a takedown at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., last year.
Main Card (CBS Sports Network and DAZN, 8 p.m. ET)
MW Championship: Gegard Mousasi vs. Douglas Lima
FW: Brandon Girtz vs. Henry Corrales
Women’s FlyW: Veta Arteaga vs. Desiree Yanez
Preliminary Card (DAZN, 5:15 p.m. ET)
WW: Sabah Homasi vs. Bobby Voelker
LW: Nick Newell vs. Zach Zane
FW: Cody Law vs. Orlando Ortega
MW: Johnny Eblen vs. Taylor Johnson
HW: Jake Hager vs. Brandon Calton
BW: Toby Misech vs. Jared Scoggins
Catchweight (150 pounds): Ádám Borics vs. Erick Sanchez
MW: Dalton Rosta vs. Ty Gwerder
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