Mousasi says title fight could have stopped him from leaving UFC

Iranian born Gegard Mousasi, right, fights Mark Munoz from the United States in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night mixed martial arts event in Berlin, Saturday, May 31, 2014. Gegard Mousasi won the fight. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Gegard Mousasi announced on Monday that he would be joining Bellator MMA on a six-fight deal, ending his run with the UFC. As he made clear as a guest on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani, he was miffed by the lack of title opportunities that he received with the promotion — namely the decision for him to not challenge for the interim UFC middleweight championship.

“I thought I was ahead of him,” Mousasi said of Robert Whittaker, who fought for and won the interim middleweight title at UFC 213. That’s my opinion. I respect Whittaker a lot, he’s a nice guy, and congratulations for winning the belt but I think if they would have called me and said, ‘O.K., you’re fighting for the interim belt,’ it would have been more interesting to me… Those things matter.”

Mousasi’s final fight with the UFC came back in April when he defeated Chris Weidman by TKO at UFC 210. He further solidified himself as a top contender, only to be passed up for Whittaker, who faced perennial contender Yoel Romero for the interim title Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Mousasi debuted with the UFC in April 2013 and went on to post a 9-3 record with the company, including a five-match win streak to end his tenure. He never earned a chance at gold.

“The Dreamcatcher” now has his sights set on capturing the Bellator middleweight and light heavyweight titles, currently held by Rafael Carvalho and former UFC 205-pound contender Ryan Bader, respectively.

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