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In one of the most anticipated fights in the history of Bellator, two legendary warriors are set to lock horns. Both Gegard Mousasi and Rory Macdonald had glistening careers in the UFC, yet they finally clash after both men jumped ship to Bellator. Interestingly, Macdonald will be moving up in weight to face Mousasi - who is a long-term middleweight.
“The Canadian Psycho”
Known for his expressionless face and monotone voice, Macdonald isn’t known for giving captivating interviews. In the cage, however, his style of fighting is all-action and barbaric.
It’s often said Macdonald is one of the first of a new generation of fighters that didn’t come to MMA from another discipline. The Canadian never trained wrestling or kickboxing before switching over, he’s been doing MMA since day one. Now in his late twenties, it’s easy to see why Macdonald is so terrifically well-rounded.
Since joining Bellator, Macdonald has looked excellent. British kickboxer, Paul Daley, has always been feared for his heavy hands but has never had much of a ground game. Not wanting to face Daley in his strongest facet, Macdonald smoothly took him down in rounds one and two while absorbing no damage. After finishing the fight by way of submission, it was clear Bellator had a new star.
In his last fight, Macdonald had to struggle through adversity to dethrone former welterweight titleholder, Douglas Lima. The Brazilian Muay Thai striker nearly destroyed Macdonald’s lead leg with his trademark lowkicks, yet the Canadian was able to dig deep and grapple his way to a decision victory. Very few fighters can match Macdonald in terms of heart and willpower.
A Dutch Kickboxing Master
Fighters from Holland are renowned as fantastic strikers, and Mousasi is no exception. If you were to draw up a shortlist of the MMA fighters in the world with the best jab, Mousasi would undoubtedly be in the conversation.
Now 33-years-of-age, Mousasi has evolved from the pure striker we saw earlier in his career. In his recent contests, we’ve seen Mousasi wrestle a lot more and dominate on the mat. His performance against elite Russian striker, Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko, was particularly impressive because Mousasi could only see out of one eye.
Years ago, a grappling-heavy strategy was the easiest way to beat Mousasi - but perhaps not anymore. Against All-American wrestler, Chris Weidman, Mousasi was taken down numerous times, but he was always able to get back to his feet. Weidman is a full-sized middleweight and Jiu-Jitsu black belt - if you can survive with him on top of you, that bodes well for Mousasi should his opponent choose to wrestle.
Skill for skill, this is an extremely close fight. I feel Mousasi is slightly sharper on the feet, but there isn’t much in it. Both fighters are well-rounded and excellent technicians.
The difference maker could be Mousasi’s size advantage. Having fought bouts at light heavyweight and even heavyweight, the Dutchman stands 6’2 and has the perfect frame for middleweight. Macdonald started his career at lightweight as a teenager but has fought predominantly at welterweight. There is absolutely no way Mousasi could make the welterweight limit.
Since there are likely to be numerous grappling exchanges in this bout, a potential fifteen-pound weight advantage on fight night could be significant. Macdonald has stated he weighs between 190-195 pounds and has no intention of bulking up.
As a final point, Macdonald has taken obscene amounts of damage in his career. The man spent nearly eight rounds in a cage with Robbie Lawler and had broken his nose on numerous occasions - not to mention the leg damage he sustained in his last bout with Lima. Although Mousasi is older, I feel he’s better preserved.
This is going to be an exciting scrap, but I believe the Dutchman is just too large and well-rounded. My money is with the favorite.
Pick: Gegard Mousasi -250
Check out my full card betting predictions for UFC 229.
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