In a shock move, No.5 ranked UFC middleweight Gegard Mousasi has signed with rival promotion Bellator MMA.
The news was confirmed by Bellator through a press release on Monday evening, announcing that the former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion had signed an exclusive, multi-fight deal.
Fighting out of The Netherlands, Iranian-born Mousasi (42-6-2) has won his last five fights, including defeats of Vitor Belfort and former UFC champion Chris Weidman. Only one of these last five has gone the distance.
In recent times, Mousasi, 31, has shown concern with his position in the promotion, getting overlooked by the UFC in favour of Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero, who fought at UFC 213 for the interim title.
With current champion, Michael Bisping still pencilled to face the returning Georges St-Pierre later this year and interim title holder Whittaker likely to face the winner in a championship unification fight, Mousasi has found himself in a less than promising position with the organisation.
After four years in the UFC, he now links up with his former Strikeforce boss; and current Bellator MMA President, Scott Coker, bolstering their middleweight ranks, which includes champion Rafael Carvalho, Alexander Shlemenko and Kevin Casey.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Gegard to the growing Bellator family,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “He’s one of the most well-rounded fighters in all of MMA and can compete in multiple divisions, so that really opens up some exciting matchmaking opportunities for us and for the fans. We’re looking forward to having him compete on Spike very soon.”
Mousasi also commented on his switch to the Viacom-owned brand: “I am looking forward to fighting in Bellator, I have a long-standing relationship with Scott Coker that goes back many years. Be ready, I am coming after the Bellator middleweight championship.”
Mousasi’s promotional debut is expected to be announced shortly.