As he closes in on 60 fights in his professional career, Gegard Mousasi still has plenty in the tank. That was clear on Friday afternoon when Mousasi retained the Bellator middleweight championship in the main event of Bellator 275 from Dublin, stopping Austin Vanderford with strikes in less than 90 seconds.
Vanderford tried to bring an aggressive gameplan to the fight, rushing at Mousasi and whipping looping power shots. Mousasi, who has faced many of the greatest fighters in the world during his incredible career, was never rattled by Vanderford's attack.
Instead, Mousasi stood his ground and fired more technical shots that scored cleanly to Vanderford's chin, slipping right through Vanderford's much wider shots.
Twice, Mousasi's shots seemed to rattle Vanderford. The second flurry from Mousasi caused Vanderford to stumble backward, the challenger's legs buckling when he attempted to move forward.
Desperate to avoid continued striking exchanges, Vanderford lunged for a takedown, which Mousasi easily stuffed before landing a series of blows that left Vanderford to cover up until the fight was stopped at the 1:25 mark of Round 1.
Mousasi is 12-1 since 2016, with an 8-1 record in the Bellator cage since he joined the promotion while riding a five-fight winning streak in the UFC. Now on his second run as Bellator middleweight champion, Mousasi expressed a newfound sense of confidence after the second successful defense of his belt.
"I'm the best middleweight," Mousasi said. "I never said that because I never believed it. But from now on, you better believe it."