Gegard Mousasi defends title against John Salter
Two-time Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi defended his title in style on Friday night.
Fighting in the main event of Bellator 264, Mousasi, 36, nullified the wrestling threat of number-one contender John Salter.
Ground strikes at the 2:07 mark of the third round finished Mousasi's opponent to register the 48th win of his decorated MMA career.
The first round saw Salter score an early takedown in Connecticut.
In the event at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Salter was looking to grind down the champion, but Mousasi defended smartly to stay out of trouble before scoring with some big knees to the body in the closing moments of the round.
Mousasi came back strongly in Round 2, using his boxing to out-strike the challenger on their feet.
Then, after Salter attempted to drag the action to the mat again, the champion defended well and turned the tables before hammering Salter with ground strikes, with only the bell saving the American at the end of the round.
With Mousasi firmly in the ascendancy, Salter desperately shot in for an early takedown at the start of Round 3, but the Dutch champion easily stuffed the attempt and ended up on top.
Mousasi then unleashed a non-stop salvo of ground strikes that forced referee Dan Miragliotta to step in and stop the fight mid-way through the round.
The victory gave Mousasi the 26th KO/TKO of his career, and his 39th stoppage victory overall as he successfully defended his title for the first time since he recaptured the belt in October last year. It was also the Dutchman's 11th win from his last 12 bouts.
"I told you from before, I'm way stronger than people think," Mousasi told Bellator co-commentator John McCarthy after his victory.
"Maybe I look skinny, but I'm a lot stronger. So physically I was the stronger guy there.
"On top I felt like I'd just pressure him, put my weight on him, hurt him with punches, make him feel the pressure.
"It was a five-rounder, so in my mind I'm saying, 'Yeah, OK. Don't do everything now, because you can go five.'"
Mousasi's next title defence was confirmed immediately after his post-fight interview as he took part in a good-natured face-off inside the cage with undefeated American, Austin Vanderford.
"He's a legend in the sport," said 11-0 contender Vanderford.
"I thought he went in there and took care of business, and I'm excited to get out there and test myself."
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