Mousasi reclaims title, denies Lima second belt

MMA

Gegard Mousasi is a champion once again.

The longtime MMA veteran defeated Douglas Lima via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) to win the vacant middleweight title Thursday night in the main event of Bellator 250.

Lima, the Bellator welterweight champ, moved up for the superfight in an effort to win a second belt. But instead, Mousasi is now a two-time Bellator middleweight champion.

The card took place with a bubble setup at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. Mousasi vs. Lima was a highly technical bout throughout and close at times. But Mousasi was the clear winner after five rounds. Coming in, Lima was ESPN’s No. 3 MMA welterweight in the world. Mousasi also had won titles in Strikeforce and Dream.

Mousasi, the bigger man, had success early getting Lima to the mat with a takedown. Mousasi dominated the first round, staying in top position on the ground and landing strikes from there. Lima, a dynamic striker, showed flashes in the second round with right hands. But Mousasi continued to stalk him, and it was clear Lima was hesitant due to the possibility of another takedown.

In the third, Lima started to land harder punches and his kicks to Mousasi’s lead leg were adding up. Swelling started to be visible on Mousasi’s left calf. Still, it was Mousasi pushing the action, and Lima’s offense, while effective, was scarce.

Lima landed more hard leg kicks in the fourth and Mousasi’s footwork was impacted. For the first time all fight, Lima was the man moving ahead and attacking, though not nearly consistent enough. Mousasi was able to seal the fight in the fifth round, timing a Lima leg kick and taking down Lima again. He got side control, and that was likely enough to sew up the victory.

Mousasi (47-4-2) has won two straight following his middleweight title loss to Rafael Lovato Jr. in June 2019. Lovato relinquished the title earlier this year, retiring due to a brain affliction. Mousasi, a 35-year-old Iran-born Armenian who lives and trains in the Netherlands, has long been one of the top middleweights in the world. He left the UFC in 2017 as a free agent on a five-fight winning streak and nearing a title shot. The 17-year pro owns wins over former UFC champions Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort.

Lima (32-8) was on a three-fight winning streak. This was his first middleweight since 2010. The Brazil native, who lives and trains in Georgia, is a three-time Bellator welterweight champion. Lima, 32, has lost only to Mousasi and Rory MacDonald in the past four years. Lima avenged that MacDonald loss by beating him to win the Bellator welterweight belt in October 2019.

On the Bellator 250 undercard, Henry Corrales defeated Brandon Girtz by split decision and Jake Hager, the former WWE champion and current All Elite Wrestling star, beat Brandon Calton by split decision.

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