There are levels to fighting. At Bellator 275, Gegard Mousasi proved Austin Vanderford is not quite ready to take the jump to the championship level.

During Friday’s headliner at 3Arena in Dublin, Mousasi (49-7-2 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) defeated Vanderford (11-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) via TKO at 1:25 of Round 1 to successfully defend his Bellator middleweight championship.

From the get-go, Mousasi showed to be the more technical and accurate striker. The first big shot Mousasi landed hurt Vanderford, who never appeared to fully recover. Patient yet aggressive, Mousasi calculatedly picked apart Vanderford until the previously-undefeated American shot for a takedown.

The attempt to drag the fight to the ground was unsuccessful. Mousasi powerfully stuffed Vanderford, who covered up. Mousasi rained down hellacious strikes until referee Kerry Hatley dove in. Vanderford rolled over and clutched his left shoulder, which appeared to be injured as a result of Mousasi’s hard sprawl.

.@Mousasi_MMA retains his @BellatorMMA Middleweight World Title at #Bellator275 pic.twitter.com/tuHYF94ycm

— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) February 25, 2022

“I’m the best middleweight,” Mousasi said in his in-cage interview. “I never said that because I never believed it. But from now on, you better believe it.”

The win was Mousasi’s 20th career by TKO or knockout and extended his current streak to four including back-to-back title defenses. As for Vanderford, the loss marks the first of his career. Key victories entering Bellator 275 included Fabian Edwards and Vinicius de Jesus.

Official Bellator 275 results include:

Gegard Mousasi def. Austin Vanderford via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:25 – for middleweight title
Sinead Kavanagh def. Leah McCourt via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Ciaran Clarke def. Abou Tounkara via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1, 5:00
Khasan Magomedsharipov def. Jose Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Jornel Lugo def. Brian Moore via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Brett Johns def. Khurshed Kakhorov via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 3:00
Davy Gallon def. Charlie Leary via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:01
Stephanie Page def. Danni McCormack via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:46
Darragh Kelly def. Junior Morgan via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 1:47
Vladimir Tokov def. Daniele Scatizzi via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Gokhan Saricam def. Kirill Sidelnikov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nathan Kelly def. Scott Pedersen via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Lee Hammond def. Jamie Hay via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:32

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