Gegard Mousasi and Rory MacDonald had successful stints in the UFC, but now both fighters agree that their current home — Bellator MMA — does a better job utilizing the talent on its roster than the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Mousasi, for one, left the UFC having won seven of his last eight bouts, but he still felt unappreciated. The 52-fight veteran has since headlined a pair of cards in Bellator MMA, capturing middleweight gold with a stoppage of Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 200 in May.
"Bellator is growing, no doubt about it," Mousasi said during a recent media call. "The last couple years I was fighting [for the] UFC, and at Bellator 200 I got the opportunity to fight in the main event. Now fighting Rory in a super fight on DAZN, I get to fight for the belt. These opportunities that I got now, I wouldn't have gotten if I was in the UFC. I'm very thankful. They have trust in me. I just have to do my job and put on good fights and win. Bellator is growing. It's going very well."
Mousasi will defend his middleweight crown against reigning 170-pound king MacDonald in the Bellator 206 headliner on Sept. 29 at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. MacDonald has also thrived since changing promotions, earning the welterweight title while besting Douglas Lima and Paul Daley in his first two appearances. “The Red King” has repeatedly stated that he thinks Bellator allows fighters more individuality than the UFC, and he also believes the Scott Coker-led promotion is utilizing its athletes the way they should be.
"I think they're competing very well. I like what Bellator's doing with management better,” MacDonald said. “I think we have a more exciting [welterweight] division, especially with the way they're doing tournaments. I just think they're managing it better, their talent. They're giving us better opportunities."
"I mean obviously the UFC has great talent but the matchups and the way they're managing it—I don't find it very intriguing and I find the fans are feeling the same way about it.”