John Salter may have entered Bellator 264 as one of the most underrated fighters in the middleweight division at the moment. But he left it, like so many others have, as another notch on Gegard Mousasi’s belt.
Since being cut from the UFC in 2010 with a 1-2 record, Salter had compiled a 13-2 record. Since joining Bellator MMA in 2015, his lone loss has been to former champ Rafael Lovato Jr.
Yet until he was finally awarded a title shot, against middleweight champ Mousasi on Friday night in Uncasville, CT, Salter barely registered as more than a blip on the MMA radar.
He was more than a blip Friday, at least through the opening two rounds.
Salter started Friday’s title fight on the outside, but it wasn’t long before he had Mousasi down, in a seated position against the fence. But as the round progressed, Mousasi had his own moments. With Salter unable to keep him down, Mousasi was able to lay into the challenger with knees. Salter ate several in the dying seconds of the round, while working for a takedown.
Round two again saw John Salter working the takedown along the fence, leaving Mousasi sitting with his back to the cage. Once more, however, he wasn’t able to make much happen from there, and Mousasi regained his feet. This time, Mousasi managed to get on top himself, avoiding upkicks to land some ground n’ pound.
The second round was a glimpse of things to come. Again in the third, Mousasi was able to get on top, and this time, the ground n’ pound was nasty. Mousasi landed a number of unanswered strikes as Salter covered up. With no response, and no escape, the ref made the call, signalling the end — and a successful title defense for Gegard Mousasi.
Following the victory, Austin Vanderford, who had worked as an analyst during the event, was announced as the next challenger for Mousasi. Vanderford currently sits at #2 in the promotion’s official rankings.
Official Result: Gegard Mousasi def. John Salter by TKO, Round 3, 2:07