TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 7/11: Gegard Mousasi jumps to Bellator and sets some goals + Mayweather-McGregor, Werdum, Sonnen, Nunes (w/Analysis)

By Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

Gegard Mousasi (photo credit Per Haljestam © USA Today Sports)

Another top UFC contender has defected to Bellator.

Chamatkar Sandhu reported on Monday that Gegard Mousasi has signed on with Bellator. Mousasi later appeared on “The MMA Hour” to confirm the reports, adding that he signed a six-fight deal. He said that his motivation to jump ship had more to it than just a dollar figure.

“It’s not just basically the money,” Mousasi said. “Like I said, I’ve worked with Scott [Coker]. When Scott promises something, he delivers. He’s an honest guy. He’s a mixed martial artist himself. He treats fighters with respect.”

Mousasi made clear that his first goal in Bellator will be to claim the Bellator Middleweight Championship currently held by Rafael Carvalho. Mousasi also discussed the possibility of moving up to light heavyweight and trying his hand there.

“I’m looking forward to be [middleweight] champion there,” he said. “If I achieve that, I look forward to going a division up and getting the 205 belt. But first the middleweight belt. That’s my goal.”

At the time of his departure, Mousasi was the #4 ranked middleweight in UFC’s official rankings. Our staff MMATorch Rankings also had him at #4. He is just the latest in what appears to be a consistent departure of tenured UFC fighters when their contracts run up. Mousasi joins recent Bellator signees Ryan Bader, Roy Nelson, Matt Mitrione, Lorenz Larkin, and Rory McDonald, among others.

While no fight announcement has been made for Mousasi as of yet, looking at recent trends, fans can be safe to expect Mousasi to challenge for the championship in his first one or two fights – something that didn’t happen at all during his 12-fight UFC run where he went 9-3, winning his last five fights.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: This is another strong signing for Bellator and another indictment of the internal culture at UFC. Despite being by far the biggest promotion in the world with the best fighters, many are choosing Bellator over UFC when they have the opportunity. The Reebok deal, USADA, and the sale to WME-IMG all have to be considered as contributors to this trend. It appears that Viacom has given Scott Coker a blank cheque to sign any available fighters he can, but if Bellator can’t increase their TV viewership or gain some traction on pay-per-view, the signings may start to dry up. You also have to consider that there is an antitrust lawsuit pending against UFC right now, so it actually benefits UFC to have a competitor signing away key talent.

I would expect Gegard Mousasi to beat Rafael Carvalho if that’s the fight they make, but often fighters underestimate their Bellator competition when they move over from UFC and come up short as we saw with Ben Henderson and recently Lorenz Larkin.

TUESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…

-Lance Pugmire at the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Mayweather-McGregor fight will have a price tag of $89.95 or $99.95 for the HD broadcast on pay-per-view. Also, Fox Sports, in a release said that a prefight show will air on Fox at 6:00 p.m. ET and preliminary fights will air on Fox at 7:00 p.m. ET with the pay-per-view beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET.

-Tonight’s Mayweather-McGregor press conference from Los Angeles can be streamed live here.

-Dana White told Fox Sports’ “Speak for Yourself” that McGregor told him he plans to knock out Mayweather “within four rounds.”

-Tonight is the first episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Scheduled fights are Matt Bessette vs. Kurt Holobaugh, Greg Rebello vs. Zu Anyanwu, Boston Salmon vs. Ricky Turcios, Charles Byrd vs. Jamie Pickett, and Manny Vazquez vs. Joby Sanchez. Check back with us tonight for a recap of the event.

-Chael Sonnen appeared on “The MMA Hour” yesterday and said that he felt Amanda Nunes should have lost via forfeit after pulling out of her scheduled title defense against Valentina Shevchenko last weekend. “It does happen in boxing meets and in wrestling meets,” Sonnen said. “If anything happens to the athlete whereby they don’t step on the mat after the weigh in, they lose by forfeit. There should be some kind of a clause in there.”

-Fabricio Werdum told MMA Fighting that he plans to appeal his majority decision loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 213 last weekend to the Nevada Athletic Commission.

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP

-Valerie Letourneau is injured and out of her Bellator fight this Friday against Emily Ducote. Ducote will now fight Jessica Middleton.

-Brittney Elkin vs. Amanda Bell and Katy Collins vs. Bruna Vargas have also been added to Bellator 181 on Friday from Thackerville, Okla.

-Joseph Morales vs. Roberto Sanchez at UFC Fight Night Mexico City on Aug. 5.

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