Bellator 282 will go down as a giant-killing night in MMA as Gegard Mousasi lost his middleweight title to rank outsider Johnny Eblen.
Elsewhere, Cat Zingano might just have secured herself a title shot, Sabah Homasi produced more fireworks and Danny Sabatello won’t stop talking.
Here are five things we learned from Bellator 282.
Fight world reacts to big upset
It is not every day a huge underdog dethrones a living legend.
Have we seen the best of Mousasi?
It’s hard to say with any certainty that Mousasi’s best days are behind him. At 36, he looked every inch his age against Eblen.
Mousasi is no stranger to an upset. In a career that has spanned 59 fights and 19 years, shocks are almost guaranteed.
He often goes through purple patches of form only to lose to someone he was expected to walk through. Eblen’s coach, Muhammad Lawal, knows too well this version of Mousasi – the fighter who takes his eye off the ball – having upset the odds in 2010 when he beat a then near unstoppable 24-year-old Mousasi.
Even in Bellator, the Dutchman has slipped. He lost the middleweight title to big underdog Rafael Lovato Jr in just his second defence.
Although not a big talker, Mousasi is direct. He’s never hidden the fact he’s a prizefighter. Asked about his longevity this week, he replied: “Wanting to make more money, that’s the thing.”
There seems little doubt Mousasi will be back, but for how long and at what level?
Has Zingano earned her title shot?
Cat Zingano had to come through what was a nasty knee injury to beat Pam Sorenson on points.
The 39-year-old veteran accidentally drove her knee into the skull of Sorenson, opening up a big gash. Once the fight was over, her cornermen were called upon to hold her up.
After taking her Bellator record to three wins in three fights, Zingano feels she has now earned her shot at featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.
“I feel like I’ve done a good job moving up the ranks in Bellator and getting the experience,” she said. “Me and Cyborg are here and we’ve both been talking about each other for a while and I think it makes a lot of sense.”
Cyborg then indicated on Twitter she had found her next challenger.
Homasi guarantees fireworks
Sabah Homasi’s knockout was definitely one of the highlights of the night. With a mullet dyed peroxide blonde and steel in his fists, Homasi is a crowd pleaser – whether he’s winning or losing.
Against Maycon Mendonca, it was a fight he won and in fine fashion. Homasi swarmed Mendonca to begin with, but he did superbly to engineer a few extra inches of space and deliver a pinpoint overhand right.
Lights out for Mendonca but fireworks for Homasi.
‘The boos were music to my cauliflower ears’
Bantamweight Danny Sabatello is quickly becoming a name in Bellator. He was booed throughout his fight with Leandro Higo due to the lack of action, but the jeers encouraged the brash-talking American.
He got on the mic, swore profusely despite Bellator warning him he could be fined for bad language and invited the fans to ‘come in here and do something’ if they were so unhappy with the performance.
Sabatello may not be a world beater, but he certainly trash talks like one.
“I just feed off excitement, I feed off pressure, I feed off emotion,” he said.
“That’s just who I am, I’m an emotional guy. I need people to flip me the bird, tell me I suck or love me. It doesn’t matter. But I love when people are acknowledging me. It’s going to be a very exciting time for Danny Sabatello fans because we feel like we have the whole world against us.”
Sabatello now has an interim bantamweight title fight against Raufeon Stots to look forward to, in what could be one of the most fiery encounters of 2022.