Gegard Mousasi not discouraged by Bellator debut, says title fight will 'open doors'

Gegard Mousasi edged out Alexander Shlemenko in his Bellator debut in October. Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Gegard Mousasi's Bellator MMA debut did not go exactly as planned in October of last year -- but as far as his ambitious plans in the promotion, he remains right on schedule.

Mousasi (43-6-2) signed with Bellator last summer after fighting out his contract with the UFC. During that time, he was one of the most coveted free agents in the sport's recent history.

He made his promotional debut at Bellator 185 on Oct. 20 in Connecticut against Alexander Shlemenko. He immediately suffered a broken orbital bone in the bout, which greatly affected his performance. Mousasi still managed to pull out a unanimous decision.

"It was not a good day," Mousasi said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. The doctors wanted to operate on me right there in the U.S., but I flew home to Holland. I didn't have double vision or blurred vision, and a doctor said it's better I not have surgery."

It wasn't the kind of feel-good, showcase win many were looking for out of Mousasi's debut, but he cares not.

With more than 50 professional fights under his belt, Mousasi knows anything can happen in a fight.

"People always judge you on your last fight, but when the cage closes, things happen that you don't plan," Mousasi said. "I thought I clearly won the fight, and I believe if I didn't have the injury, I would have dominated him all three rounds.

"If I win my next fight, people will forget that last one. People have short memories in this sport."

Bellator recently announced Mousasi's next fight will be against middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 200 on May 25 in London. It's a matchup that felt inevitable once Mousasi signed with Bellator, but it's not the end goal. It's a stepping stone for Mousasi.

"I've been wanting to fight for the belt for a long time. It's something I wanted in the UFC and now I'm getting the opportunity here," Mousasi said. "It's something to put on my Wikipedia page [laughs].

"If I win this fight, it will open doors to a light heavyweight title. This fight is going to open up more doors for me. Bigger achievements."