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Rafael Carvalho dishes on Bellator 200 title loss to Gegard Mousasi: 'God knows what he’s doing'

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Ten days later, Rafael Carvalho has been able to closely watch the Bellator 200 bout in which he lost his middleweight title to Gegard Mousasi.

The disappointment remains the same. But there’s something to be said for self-awareness, as a no-excuses Carvalho (15-2 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) blames mistakes made by only himself for the events that led to the TKO loss to Mousasi (44-6-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) less than four minutes into their clash.

“I think he studied all my fights and noticed that I liked to kick the waist area,” Carvalho told MMAjunkie. “That’s what he was waiting for. That’s something that my trainer and I, on fight week, we insisted on that – on not kicking, on working the boxing, so I could open the gaps to really impose my game. Unfortunately, it was something I did out of impulse.”

Carvalho and Mousasi headlined May 25’s Bellator 200 event at London’s SSE Arena. The bout ended with Mousasi spectacularly bouncing back from a lackluster Bellator debut, quickly getting on top of the then-champ to spark the TKO stoppage at 3:35 of Round 1.

The setback cost Carvalho a few things. Obviously, it cost him the belt he’d owned since October 2015 following a knockout win over Brandon Halsey. But it also cost him a winning streak – a 15 fights, at that, which he started building after his pro debut.

Had it been the day after the title-costing loss, Carvalho said, he probably wouldn’t exactly be in the timeframe to talk about it. But now? Well, he wouldn’t go so far as to say that he’s made peace with defeat. But, after somewhat absorbing the blow, Carvalho also knows there’s not much use dwelling on the past.

So, strengthened by his family and his religious beliefs, it’s on to the future for the 31-year-old former champion.

“What comforts me is thinking that God knows what he’s doing,” Carvalho said. “If he thought that was the time for me to lose, it’s because something bigger is ahead of me. There’s still a lot for me to accomplish. It’s a long road, so there’s still a lot to happen in my life.

“I’m looking forward. I’ve been hurt but not disheartened. So my walk goes on.”

It’s a walk that Carvalho is in no rush to take, either. Not injured in the fight, Carvalho will get back to the gym as soon as next week, before a quick pause to celebrate his 32nd birthday with his family in his native Rio de Janeiro. Then, he’ll talk to his coaches, team and with Bellator to figure things out with a cool head.

While the thought of a rematch is, of course, “always welcome,” it’s one that isn’t consuming Carvalho right now. As much as he’d like the opportunity re-claim the belt, the middleweight is well aware that it’s something that might not be in the cards for him as of now.

“If it takes two or three fights, if I have to climb my way up there again, I have no problem with that,” Carvalho said.

Carvalho still hasn’t given up on other plans – like, for instance, moving up to the 205-pound division at some point. But they’re all negotiable, too, if Bellator decides 185 pounds is his home.

At this point, it’s pretty much wait and see. But the thought of one day re-claiming his majesty is alive and well.

“I even said, jokingly, that the belt looks better with me,” Carvalho added with a laugh. “I think the gold really makes my eyes pop.”

For complete coverage of Bellator 200, check out the MMA Events section of the site.



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