One day after Rafael Lovato Jr. was forced to vacate the Bellator middleweight championship, the promotion has lined up a bout to crown a new champion at 185 pounds. On Tuesday, Bellator MMA president Scott Coker announced that former middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi will battle reigning welterweight champion Douglas Lima on May 9 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.
Lovato won the title this past June with a majority decision over Mousasi. He was then diagnosed with cavernoma, a condition involving irregularly formed blood vessels in his brain. While sidelined by the condition, Lovato announced he would vacate the championship rather than hold up the division.
Lima (32-7) is on his third run as Bellator welterweight champ, capturing the title in October by defeating Rory MacDonald in the finals of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix. Lima had lost the title to MacDonald three fights prior, ending his second run with the title. Lima is 14-3 in Bellator action, with all three defeats coming in championship bouts. He is 4-3 overall in title bouts for the promotion.
Mousasi (46-7-2) is a well-traveled veteran who fought in PRIDE, DREAM, Strikeforce and UFC among other promotions before landing in Bellator. In fact, Mousasi signed with Bellator as he left the UFC on a five-fight winning streak. Mousasi won the Bellator middleweight title in his second fight for the promotion, defeating Rafael Carvalho for the title. After a successful title defense against MacDonald, Mousasi lost the belt to Lovato. A split decision win over fellow UFC vet Lyoto Machida in his most recent fight positioned Mousasi for this attempt to win back the championship.
Bellator 243 is headlined by two-division champ Ryan Bader defending his light heavyweight title against Vadim Nemkov. Interestingly enough, the event will go head-to-head with UFC 250 on the scheduled May 9 date.