Gegard Mousasi reveals plans to chase Bellator title ‘one more time’ before retirement
Gegard Mousasi knows he can’t fight forever, so he’s approaching his next fight at Bellator 296 under realistic terms that the end of his career is likely coming soon.
The two-time Bellator middleweight champion faces Fabian Edwards in Friday’s Bellator 296 main event from Paris in a potential No. 1 contender’s bout, with the winner likely moving on to face reigning 185-pound king Johnny Eblen. Mousasi, who dropped the title to Eblen this past June, expects to earn a rematch with a win over Edwards, but that will almost certainly end up being the last time he pursues gold before retirement.
“After this fight is probably a title fight,” Mousasi told MMA Fighting. “I’m going to go for the belt one more time, and that’s probably going to be a decider if I’m going to continue [fighting] or not. This fight, I have to win and then go for the belt because I’m going to be 38, it’s my last chance to fight for the belt and I’m going to give my all. About Johnny Eblen [in the last fight], he was hungrier, better prepared. It was just his time.”
Mousasi, 37, concedes that his 20-year career in combat sports has definitely taken a toll on his body, and it’s getting harder and harder to stay healthy during his training camps.
In fact, the UFC and Strikeforce veteran revealed that part of the reason he hasn’t fought in almost a year was due to severe numbness in his hand, which caused him to undergo surgery that didn’t ultimately fix the problem.
“After my fight, every time I would grip, my hand would fall asleep,” Mousasi said. “I had carpal tunnel syndrome or something like that, but I had an operation but it didn’t help. So even if I wanted to fight earlier, I couldn’t have done it.
“They operated on my wrist but it’s actually coming from my neck. Just wear and tear from all those years of fighting. I would sleep, my hand would fall asleep and I would wake up every hour. In training camp, you need your sleep. Thank God, I have a physio, he helped adjust my neck and this is why I can sleep.”
According to Mousasi, he still has to get regular treatment on his neck to ensure the same problem doesn’t sprout up again. He takes that as just another sign that age catches up to everybody eventually, but particularly for fighters who punish their bodies on almost a daily basis.
“My problem was every time I would sleep, I would wake up because my hand would fall asleep and it would feel numb,” Mousasi explained. “I fixed it so now I’m good again. You get older, you have to deal with more stuff. Back in the day, I would just eat, sleep, train, sleep, and now everything is more difficult.
“Training is difficult, dealing with injuries, I’m still only 37 but I’ve had a lot of fights, a lot of miles on my body. It’s not that easy anymore. There’s no fun in it. It’s even harder now than it was before, so sometimes I wonder why I’m still doing it, but my goal is to win that belt one more time, give it my all and see what happens, but at least I tried one more time to get the belt. That’s my path.”
While Mousasi still loves his job and anticipates becoming champion again, he recognizes that the sand eventually runs out of the hourglass for everyone.
The last thing Mousasi wants is to overstay his welcome, so his upcoming fight against Edwards and a potential rematch with Eblen will go a long way to determine how much longer he has left in the sport.
“I didn’t look good at all in my last fight, but I was winning before that,” Mousasi said. “I didn’t feel like I aged, but in that last fight, I looked slow. I didn’t really fight. If it happens one or two more times, I know that time is catching up.
“Johnny Eblen is going to be in Paris. That’s the fight Bellator wants to make. I think it depends if it’s a boring fight or I wouldn’t give myself a title fight. So I need to go and perform and win dominantly so people look forward to the title fight.”