Mousasi stops Vanderford, retains middleweight title

Austin Vanderford, a 2008 graduate of Ninilchik School, took the first loss of his pro mixed martial arts career Friday in Dublin, Ireland, falling to Gegard Mousasi in a fight for the middleweight title at Bellator 275.

At 85 seconds into the first round, Vanderford, who won an NAIA wrestling title for Southern Oregon University at 184 pounds in 2012, went for the takedown. Mousasi, who is now 49-7, caught Vanderford with a series of blows and was able to secure the technical knockout and keep his middleweight title.

Mousasi was born in Iran and now fights out of the Netherlands. The victory over the 31-year-old Vanderford confirmed Mousasi’s confidence in himself.

“I was hungry,” Mousasi said in the press conference after the fight. “I was more determined than him and I’m in my prime. I feel I’m the best middleweight in the world right now.

“I never said that because I never thought I was the best, but I told everyone this training camp, at this day, I was the best middleweight.”

Vanderford falls to 11-1 with the loss.