PARIS, FRANCE (May 12, 2023) – A sold out crowd of over 13,000 fans packed the Accor Arena tonight for BELLATOR’s third successful event in Paris, France. Several French fighters shined brightly for the partisan Parisian crowd, including Thibault Gouti (17-6), who scored an emphatic knock out over Kane Mousah (14-5) to start the main card off with a bang.
The main event saw a coming-of-age performance for Birmingham, England’s Fabian Edwards (12-2), who outclassed MMA icon Gegard Mousasi (49-9-2) en route to a unanimous decision victory (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).
NEXT STOP – DUBLIN: With his victory in the main event, Edwards has earned a title shot against undefeated Middleweight World Champion Johnny Eblen (13-0) in a bid to join his brother Leon Edwards World Champion. The two will clash in the main event of BELLATOR Dublin: Eblen vs. Edwards, which will take place at the 3Arena on Saturday, Sept. 23. More information on the event will be revealed in the coming days.
The co-main feature saw an incredible five-round back and forth battle between former BELLATOR Lightweight World Champion Brent Primus (11-3) and hometown favorite Mansour Barnaoui (20-5). After 25 minutes of elite level grappling, Primus earned the unanimous decision victory (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) and advances in the BELLATOR Lightweight World Grand Prix to face current World Champion Usman Nurmagomedov (17-0) in the semifinals on a date to be determined.
Former Welterweight World Champion Douglas Lima (33-11) had a successful debut at middleweight over Costello van Steenis (14-3) scoring 29-28 on all three judge’s scorecards.
#2-Fabian Edwards (12-2) def. #1-Gegard Mousasi (49-9-2) via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
After I suffered my losses a lot of people wrote me off, a lot of people thought I was finished, but now I’m here: one more fight until I get that gold belt.
Who in MMA can say they’ve got Machida and Mousasi on their record? I lost my two fights and everyone wrote me off. I kept my self-belief, got back to the gym and carried on working and now I’m back here, on a three-fight winning streak and one fight away from a world title.
The gameplan was to go in there and do me. I feel like I could’ve thrown a few more kicks but I hurt my foot and every time I kicked I could feel it and I didn’t want to show it [the pain] on my face.
I was putting those kicks in and a few caught his knees and caught his elbows but that’s the fight game. My jaw’s hurting, my body’s hurting but that’s the fight game. I’ve got a pocket full of cash and a world title shot.
I felt so calm in there, it’s a really weird feeling because I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t feel anxious I just felt like I feel talking to you guys now. It’s a good feeling.
I loved it [fighting in Paris], the arena was packed out. I got some boos, I got some cheers. As long as the fans and everyone enjoyed the fight then I’m happy with that. I think Bellator are trying to come back to Paris – I don’t know when – but if they do then they can definitely give me a shout for that show.
Johnny [Eblen] knows that he’s seeing me next. The pushes and shoves are all nice but we get to see each other in the cage and we get to lock horns and exchange some punches. I see it going the way I want it to go. I think he’s underestimating my wrestling. I’ve got grit, I’ve shown I can go five rounds. The gas tank is good. I’m here and I’m ready for it.
It sounds nice [to be fighting for the title in Dublin] but I wouldn’t mind bringing it to Birmingham. I know they said Dublin but let’s see if we can twist someone’s arm and bring it back to Birmingham. Why not? Birmingham deserves it.
We come from what people class as a little gym from Birmingham but look what we produce. It [winning the title] would mean the world. One fight away – and even after that one fight there’s a lot to gain. It’s not over until it’s over. He’s [Leon’s] trying to go down as one of the greats – he’s already a great in England – but he wants to go down as one of the greatest of all time and I want to do the same thing.
#4-Brent Primus (12-3) def. #8-Mansour Barnaoui (20-5) via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
I didn’t think he was going to come at me like that in the first round. There’s five rounds and I thought we were going to dance around and feel each other out and he was not about that… he came at me like a damn bullet! After that first round I even told my coach, “Damn I’m tired” and I had to dig deep.
I think he has gills in his neck or something like that. He’s one tough son of a gun. Hats off to you Mansour, you are so tough bro. Good job, man. Usually, I’d have submitted those guys but man… hat’s off to him.
He pushed me. That guy did not stop the whole time. Luckily I have American Top Team, all the guys to support me and push me. I’m nothing without my team. They push me so much. All the guys, they help me and push me. I wouldn’t have been able to push through those last couple of rounds without them.
My ground game is way better than his. I knew if the fight went to the ground it would be my fight. I felt so good, I felt so confident in my submission defense. I knew he wasn’t going to submit me. I have confidence in my stand-up. I think that started to show a little bit. But I knew if the fight went to the ground I’d dominate.
I heard him gargling a couple of times. I knew he’s tough and I knew this fight meant so much to him – and me – so I knew I had to put him to sleep. I knew he wasn’t going to tap. I think the last round I had a rear-naked choke and it was more on his chin before the last five or six seconds I managed to slip my left hand underneath his chin. I think if I had more time I would’ve choked him but Mansour is a game opponent, he’s really tough. It was a do or die situation for both of us out there so I knew I was going to have to put him to sleep.
It’s crazy out there. The French crowd is insane, it was so loud and crazy. I’ve fought in Ireland, in London and I think that here was the loudest. They get behind their fighters and they booed me really good and it felt good to go out there, win and upset everybody.
I’ve been asking Bellator for that fight [against Usman Nurmagomedov], since about a year and a half ago. If you work hard and you believe in yourself, things happen. Here we go, man! I get a shot at the title and I couldn’t be happier. I respect him, I respect his whole camp. He’s a great champion, he comes from a really good camp and trains with really good guys but I’m going to win that fight and I’m going to be the champion again. He’s a great champion but I have confidence in myself and I’m going to go in there and win that title back.
Everyone says I’m getting old, I’m 38. Gosh damn it’s crazy just to say that I’m 38 but I feel young, I feel really good in the gym. I’m training so gosh damn hard, I’m feel like training harder than all the younger kids in the gym and I feel like I’m beating all the younger kids up. I don’t feel 38 that for sure, I keep on hearing that I’m old but I don’t feel it so… screw that, I’m young!
Douglas Lima (33-11) def. #10-Costello van Steenis (14-3) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
On his win tonight: It’s a big weight off the shoulders getting the win. It’s not easy coming back after a bunch of losses like that. I came in here and executed.
At fighting at 185 lbs: Night and day difference. I wasn’t able to put a lot of weight back on, but I felt amazing and felt good. My whole team got me the energy I needed and the support. France it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m not going away.
Thibault Gouti (15-6) def. Kane Mousah (14-5) via KO at of R1
On Kane Mousah: I knew he was a good striker. I knew we would stand up. I caught him in first round but that’s the game and he recovered well after that. In the second round he caught me when he was in southpaw, so I changed my stance, and I caught him in the exchange. I think he was out (when I hit him), he said to me afterwards he was ok I’m not the referee, but I think he was out.
On the how the fight went: I knew I won the first round, so it was already a good thing. In the second round he was changing stance and he caught me, and he caught me in the liver. After it was not the plan for him to come at me, he is a brawler, I knew that. I’m very happy. I don’t think the fight was about power. I think it was more technical and more about being smart and using the gameplan. I knew he was going to come. He was throwing large hooks. I tried to get him, and I was waiting for him. I threw my hook, and I got him.
On who he wants to fight next: You know what man and who I love to watch fight and I have a lot of respect for, Tim Wilde. Tim Wilde, he just won tonight, and he fought last time, and he won. He is always winning. He has a good style, and I would like to fight with him and see. He is very good. I respect him. I want him next.
I’m ok, my nose is a little open. I did that in training. I want to fight again in 3-4 months. If I can fight in Europe and come to Dublin and fight, then I will.
On fighting in Paris: Amazing. I like Paris it’s the capital of course but in Marseille, we have different people. They are the real fanatics. Every Frenchman is crazy.
#6-Denise Kielholtz (6-5) def. Paula Cristina (6-1) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Luca Poclit (9-1) def. Oliver Enkamp (11-4) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Davy Gallon (21-8-2, 1 NC) vs. Saul Rogers (15-5, 1 NC) resulted in a No Contest
Yves Landu (19-9) def. Piotr Niedzielski (17-6) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Sarvarjon Khamidov (15-0) def. Kevin Petshi (18-6) via Submission (RNC) at 1:33 or R3
Tim Wilde (16-4-1) def. Chris Gonzalez (8-3) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Fabacary Diatta (9-1) def. Keir Harvie (5-3-2) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Asael Adjoudj (6-1) def. Georges Sasu (4-3) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Romain Debienne (10-4) def. Bourama Camara (5-3) via KO at 1:04 of R2
Jose Augusto (8-4, 1 NC) def. Simon Biyong (9-3) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)