Middleweight champ Mousasi TKOs Vanderford

MMA news

Gegard Mousasi extended his second reign as Bellator middleweight champion in style on Friday, stunning previously undefeated Austin Vanderford early with a 1-2 punch combination before taking the fight to the ground and finishing off a first-round TKO knockout in the main event of Bellator 275 in Dublin.

Mousasi (49-7-2), a 38-year-old from the Netherlands, calmly took apart his American challenger, winning an exchange of punches with a combo that put Vanderford on unsteady legs. When Vanderford (11-1) shot for a takedown, Mousasi defended smoothly and secured top position, then started pounding away until the referee waved off the bout at 1 minute and 25 seconds.

Even in a fight this short, Mousasi once again put on display the relaxed fighting style that has made him a two-time Bellator champ as well as a belt holder in the Strikeforce, Dream and Cage Warriors promotions.

“I was taking my time,” Mousasi said. “I knew I hurt him.”

The quick finish emboldened Mousasi to proclaim something he’d been reluctant to say in the past.

“I’m the best middleweight,” he said. “I never said that, because I never believed it. But from now on, you’d better believe it. … I’ve never been so confident in my life.”

In the co-main event, featherweight Sinead Kavanagh toughed it out in front of her hometown fans, overcoming a midfight knee injury that made it difficult for her to maneuver or even stand, and won a unanimous decision over Leah McCourt. Afterward, Bellator announced that Kavanagh will once again challenge champion Cris Cyborg, who knocked out Kavanagh in the first round in November.

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