I've got it 48-47 for Mousasi as we head to the scorecards.
Nearly two decades into one of MMA's most underrated careers, filled with impressive wins at multiple weight classes spread across multiple promotions, Gegard Mousasi continues to add world titles to his legacy.
Mousasi (47-7-2) relied on his size and smarts on Thursday as the bigger man in regaining the Bellator MMA middleweight title via unanimous decision against current welterweight champion Douglas Lima (32-8) in the main event of Bellator 250 inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The 35-year-old Mousasi, a former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and Pride veteran, took home judges scores of 48-47 and 49-46 twice to claim the vacant title he lost by majority decision to Rafael Lovato Jr. in 2019. Lovato (10-0) was forced to retire this year while dealing with a brain condition called cerebral cavernoma.
"I didn't want to waste too much energy and I felt that I was winning the rounds and fighting at a good pace to pressure him backwards," Mousasi said. "I was scoring the rounds and I thought this was maybe good to secure the last round with a takedown. The takedowns secured the round and I got the win."
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Not only did Mousasi hold a 4-0 advantage in takedowns, all which seemed to come at strategic times, he perfectly halted a final-round rally from Lima with one in the final two minutes. Using leg strikes to make Mousasi a bit stationery, Lima was enjoying his best stretch of the fight only to be stifled by Mousasi's size and control on the ground.
Overall, Mousasi outlanded Lima by a margin of 89-50 to win his 10th fight over his last 11, including his final five with UFC before joining Bellator in 2017.
"The last round, he hit me a couple times and I had to show a good poker face but he really hurt me," Mousasi said. "I felt like Douglas Lima was in his prime and he even looked big. He didn't look like a welterweight but I thought I had the technical advantage. I could mix in the takedowns but he was good enough that I couldn't put him away. Another guy I probably would have finished. He was game, he was experienced and he paces himself."
Here are the final moments of round 3️⃣ between @PhenomLima and @Mousasi_MMA.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) October 30, 2020
The #Bellator250 main event title bout is headed into the championship rounds.
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The potential size difference with Mousasi, a former light heavyweight who also holds wins at heavyweight, became the biggest storyline heading in. Although Lima proved strong enough to withstand Mousasi's offense on the feet in a way former Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald was unable to when he moved up to challenge Mousasi in 2018, the main issue for Lima is that he strictly didn't do enough.
Lima, 32, was repeatedly backed up to the cage with ease and never began to take the lead offensively until the final round when he committed to leg strikes to slow Mousasi down. Whether it was being gun shy or extra protective to defend takedowns, Lima simply got started too late and performed in a less than inspiring manner despite coming in on a red-hot tear following a victory in the Bellator MMA Welterweight World Grand Prix.
"I didn't take any unnecessary risks because when we were close, he was very wild with his hooks and one punch could finish it," Mousasi said. "I was scoring with the jab and I knew I had four rounds at least. I cruised to the victory but you can never count out the guy. He is a phenomenal fighter."
Mousasi dominated the opening frame with a pair of takedowns, elbows from top position and a commitment to use his size to lay all over Lima, which caused the smaller fighter to look gassed shortly after Round 2.
The remaining rounds were closer as Lima began to do just enough with his boxing skills to prevent Mousasi from completely walking him down. But the combination of Mousasi's outside leg kicks and stiff jabs seemed to be enough to edge Lima out in the close rounds.
Bellator 250 card, results
- Gegard Mousasi (c) def. Douglas Lima via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
- Henry Corrales def. Brandon Girtz via split decision (30-27, 27-30, 30-27)
- Dalton Rosta def. Ty Gwerder via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jake Hager def. Brandon Calton via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Sabah Homasi def. Bobby Voelker via second-round TKO (punches)
- Johnny Eblen def. Taylor Johnson via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Adam Borics def. Erick Sanchez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Cody Law def. Orlando Ortega via first-round submission (D'Arce choke)