New Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi is only 35 years old. But I'd forgive longtime fans for believing he was no less than 103—his professional career, after all, spans generations, continents and contrasting ethoses.
As a fighter in his prime, he competed in the wacky and wild world of Japanese mixed martial arts, stepping into the ring with heavyweights such as Mark Hunt in bouts with very different rules and standards of judging.
He also won titles around the world in more conventional promotions—everywhere except the UFC where he managed to run up a 9-3 record before departing to Bellator on a winning streak, creating a murkiness that rarely exists about who is truly the best fighter in the middleweight class.
All that experience means it takes a lot to ruffle Mousasi or make him deviate from his game plan. Welterweight champion Douglas Lima, looking to add a second belt to his collection, couldn't manage it. Mousasi controlled four of five mostly uneventful rounds en route to regaining the title he lost in 2019.
While that makes Mousasi the unquestioned winner on the night, he wasn't the only one. Fighting, of course, is about more than just the final verdict and a green line on Wikipedia. That's why our real winners and losers are more than just the results, though you'll find those at the end of this column. It's about entertaining the crowd, making your mark and creating moments.
What follows are the moments that stood out to me. You can add yours in the comments.
Loser: The Knockout
In 2015, an amateur wrestler with promise named Brandon Girtz knocked Derek Campos in just 37 seconds. It was the best thing that ever happened to his career in some ways. Bellator pegged him as a future star, and he was fast tracked toward main card success.
It was also the beginning of the end.
Before that fight, Girtz had one knockout in more than six years as a pro. Afterward, he fancied himself a slugger, swinging for the fences every time he wound up to launch a blow. He's lost six of his last eight in this fashion, focusing on the potential dramatic finish rather than doing what it takes to actually get his hand raised.
You saw it here against Henry Corrales, with Girtz winging punches that often missed by a foot or more. Though one judge somehow saw the fight go Girtz's way, to most people with functional vision, it was a one-sided loss.
At this point, now 35 years old, it's likely too late for Girtz to ever develop into a championship-level fighter. He fell in love with the knockout—and it cost him everything.
Loser: The Sounds of Silence
Bellator's three-man broadcast booth of former UFC mainstay Mike Goldberg, legendary referee John McCarthy and former fighter Josh Thomson love the sound of their own voices.
Now, I don't know that for a fact, of course, but it's a reasonable belief after spending several hours listening to the three men call MMA bouts.
Nothing is given even a moment to breathe. They talk, endlessly, often about everything but the action taking place in front of them. Worse, a lot of time is spent in meandering asides and petty squabbles that add nothing at all to the proceedings.
Frankly, it makes these shows less enjoyable to watch.
Winner: AEW Announcer Jim Ross
When you watch All Elite Wrestling (Wednesdays on TNT), you'll already know how much Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross loves talking about the competitor's prowess in traditional sports. Lance Archer, for example, isn't just a big, strapping wrestler—he's a former college football quarterback.
Ross' favorite legitimate athlete in AEW appears to be Jake Hager, the wrestler formerly known as Jack Swagger. He never fails to mention that Hager is a former NCAA All American at Ross' beloved University of Oklahoma and an undefeated professional MMA fighter.
Thanks to a questionable judges' decision, he'll be able to continue making that claim.
Anyone who watched the fight between Hager and the unknown Brandon Calton will know The Inner Circle member was left bloodied, heaving for breath and the beneficiary of a very questionable decision. Hager's face was a bloody mess at the end as he sat looking to regain his composure while waiting for the verdict.
But, as bad as he looked, technically Hager remains undefeated—and I'm sure you'll hear all about it on future episodes of Dynamite.
Winner: Maxims like 'Age Matters'
Sabah Homasi and Bobby Voelker are both veterans of the sport: skilled martial artists with years in the gym competing with elite athletes. Both men, likewise, crashed out of UFC once they finally made it, losing three and four in a row, respectively, on the biggest stage.
The difference here? Nine years.
Homasi, a spry 32, demolished an aged, diminished 41-year-old Voelker. The years aren't kind to any of us, but they are crueler to fighters than almost anyone else.
Gegard Mousasi defeated Douglas Lima via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
Henry Corrales defeated Brandon Girtz via split decision (30-27, 27-30, 30-27)
Dalton Rosta defeated Ty Gwerder via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jake Hager defeated Brandon Calton via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Sabah Homasi defeated Bobby Voelker via KO (flying knee and punches) Round 2
Johnny Eblen defeated Taylor Johnson via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Adam Borics defeated Erick Sanchez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Cody Law defeated Orlando Ortega via submission (D’Arce choke) Round 1