Gegard Mousasi vows to ‘chase a finish, make a statement’ and then ‘get drunk in Dublin’ as middleweight champion prepares to take on Austin Vanderford at Bellator 275
- Gegard Mousasi takes on Austin Vanderford in the main event of Bellator 275
- Huge event is taking place in Dublin on Friday evening in front of packed house
- Mousasi remains one of the most talented middleweights in all of MMA
- He believes Vanderford will try to take him down but fatigue and get finished
Gegard Mousasi is breezing into his Dublin headliner for Bellator 275 with the ease only a veteran champion can possess.
The 36-year-old Dutch middleweight is being challenged by Austin Vanderford in the main event on Friday night.
For the American, this will be the brightest spotlight and the biggest stage he has ever set foot on but the champion has taken to the Irish capital like a duck to water.
Gegard Mousasi (left) defends his belt against Austin Vanderford (right) in Dublin
‘I have more friends and family coming so this fight feels like it is more on home turf,’ he exclusively told Sportsmail.
‘I have 20-30 friends coming and family so afterwards, we’re going to get drunk!’
The former UFC star, who remains one of the greatest talents lost by the organisation, has thrived in Bellator and has stepped into the cage 57 times as a professional.
How can he maintain the passion for his craft in the face of contenders – like Vanderford – snapping at his heels?
‘I’ve had fights when I wasn’t hungry, I paid for it but I always come back stronger,’ he reflects.
‘I’m also a bit lucky with injuries, a good team around me and just being a professional, when I have a fight I do my job but it is more now with age balancing the mental stuff with the physical but you don’t want to burn yourself with the training you want to be hungry. Every training camp is different, I try to adjust.’
Vanderford overcame British fighter Fabian Edwards for a shot at the title and believes he matches up well against Mousasi.
The champion accepts that his opponent’s wrestling ability could cause problems but backs himself not to be trapped on the mat for long.
Mousasi has insisted he will manage to fight his way back up if taken down by Vanderford
Mousasi is vastly experienced and regarded as one of the top middleweights in MMA
‘The fights that I lost, not all but some of them, were basically wrestlers who took me down to hold me,’ he says.
‘I know it is a mental thing for me. If they take me down and I choose to stay there, feeling comfortable there, that is the way the fight will but if he takes me down I’m going to hit him, I’m going to get up. Of course, style wise, he could be a problem.
‘He is a pretty good wrestler, he takes you down, he controls you, so if he does that he will look good but in this sport if you’re just a jiu-jitsu guy and you play that game, you’re going to lose.
‘Everyone has a fair chance though, he has a lot of wrestling matches, he knows how to pace himself, he knows how to win rounds. I don’t see 11 fights as something that he’s lacking.
The middleweight showdown will take place in Dublin in front of a raucous crowd
‘Maybe it will be a different atmosphere for him but he is fighting for the belt, has a lot to prove and is undefeated so confident, it could work for him or against him but I don’t count on him being inexperienced.’
Mousasi also believes fatigue will play a key part in the five-round contest if Vanderford continually seeks takedowns.
He went on: ‘I’m planning to put the pressure on him and go for the finish, he will probably try to take me down and hold me, takedowns will take a lot of energy so if he does that, I’ll try to get up.
‘He’ll fatigue and then I think I can finish him from top position or stand up, my ground and pound is much better than his. With this fight I’m going to go for the finish to make a statement.’