Although the UFC is will be without an event this weekend, it doesn’t mean that fans of MMA won’t have fights to look toward. Excitement will be the order of the day this coming Friday night as Bellator MMA presents Bellator 264 from the Fightsphere at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.
Barring any late postponements for any reason, Bellator 264 will feature an 8-fight card, highlighted by a battle for supremacy at 185 lbs. in the Bellator 264 main event. Headlining the night is the Bellator MMA Middleweight Championship, an interesting tussle (at least on paper) against incumbent titleholder Gegard Mousasi (47-7-2) and No. 1 contender John Salter (18-4), a five-round fight at five minutes per round to close the show at Bellator 264.
Bellator 264 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Going into the Bellator 264 main event on Friday, Mousasi is the taller man at 6-foot-2, compared to Salter’s 6-foot-1 frame. Additionally, Mousasi holds a two-inch reach advantage, 76 inches to 74 inches, over Salter in this fight.
Gegard Mousasi Putting Retirement on Hold
Heading into the Bellator 264 main event, Mousasi has posted a 4-1 record in his last five fights and is currently on a two-fight winning streak. Most recently besting Douglas Lima (unanimous decision) just before Halloween in Bellator 250 on CBS Sports Network, but he wasn’t initially planning on fighting this long.
It’s no secret that Mousasi has teased a retirement from the sport in recent years, saying in 2018 that he wanted to close his career as a fighter after three more appearances. Ultimately, COVID-19 hit, forcing a months-long shutdown of the world’s sports calendar and causing Mousasi to reevaluate his plans.
Last October, Mousasi spoke with USA Today’s MMA Junkie to reveal his altered plan of attack for the twilight of his career, saying:
“Next year, next two years, I want to do five fights (overall). I’m going to sit down and think about what I’m going to do. Two more years for sure, 100 percent (I will retire with Bellator).”
John Salter Looks to Ride Momentum of Three Fight Winning Streak
In the other corner, Salter has posted a record of 4-1 in his last five MMA appearances and has an ongoing three-fight winning streak, submitting Andrew Kapel last August in Bellator 249. That night, in the post-fight presser, Salter had this to say:
“I’m ready for whatever. Obviously, the title’s the main thing on my horizon. That’s what I want, that’s what my eye’s on, but whatever’s next is next.”
For Salter, what’s next is a title shot among one of the best middleweights to ever walk into an MMA cage– but how do these two compare going into the Bellator 264 main event?
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, this Bellator 264 main event looks to be a toss-up, with Gegard Mousasi holding a black belt in judo and John Salter holding a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so it goes without saying that this could very well be another grappler’s delight on Friday night.
Look For Mousasi to Establish Control of the Fight Early On
In his most recent fight against Lima, Mousasi established control, wearing Lima down before taking top mount. He continued scoring with ground and pound shots as the first round drew to a close. From there, Mousasi was able to exhaust Lima with his boxing over the next four rounds to take the title. All it will take for Mousasi to defend his belt in as little as one opening to establish control. If he’s able to establish control effectively in the early going of the Bellator 264 main event on Friday night, the momentum will swing in his favor.
Watch for Salter’s Ground Game
The only thing that could derail Gegard Mousasi’s bid to defend the belt in the Bellator 264 main event on Friday night is John Salter’s ground game. Looking back on the tape from his fight last year, he was able to dump Kapel in round three, immediately pouncing on him and scoring top position, advancing on it to lock in that arm-triangle choke. All John Salter is going to need is as little as one takedown to try and rip control of the fight away from the champ.
Don’t even think about missing the Bellator 264 main event this Friday night– as we could be looking at competitive violence of the highest order. You’ll be witnessing one of the final chapters of Gegard Mousasi’s storied MMA career, so it would behoove anyone to tune in.
Prediction: Gegard Mousasi by Unanimous Decision
Featured Image Credits to: Embed from Getty Images