Gegard Mousasi squeaks by Alexander Shlemenko in debut at Bellator 185

Bellator MMA middleweight Gegard Mousasi. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Gegard Mousasi made a successful Bellator MMA debut Friday night, defeating former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko in the main event of Bellator 185.

Mousasi earned a three-round unanimous decision victory with all three judges scoring the bout 29-28 (two rounds to one) in favour of Mousasi. The 32-year-old Dutchman won the first two rounds despite his right eye swelling shut in the opening round. He held on as Shlemenko pressed forward in the final stanza.

Mousasi (42-6-2) signed with Bellator in July after four years spent in the UFC. Mousasi picked up victories over Chris Weidman, Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson and Uriah Hall among others during his time competing in the Octagon.

Rafael Carvalho is the current Bellator middleweight champion. He is set to defend his title agianst Alessio Sakara on Dec. 9 in Italy. It’s likely Mousasi will end up fighting the winner of that bout.

Also on the card, Neiman Gracie improved to 7-0 in mixed martial arts with a submission victory over short-notice opponent Zak Bucia while Kristina Williams handed former professional boxer Heather Hardy her first loss in MMA.

Here are the complete results from Bellator 185:

MAIN CARD
— Gegard Mousasi def. Alexander Shlemenko by unanimous decision
— Neiman Gracie def. Zak Bucia by submission (neck crank)
— Kristina Williams def. Heather Hardy by TKO (doctor stoppage)
— Ryan Quinn def. Marcus Surin by unanimous decision
— Lisa Blaine def. Ana Julaton by split decision

PRELIMINARY CARD
— John Lopez def. Billy Giovanella by unanimous decision
— Kevin Carrier def. Jose Antonio Perez by unanimous decision
— Vovka Clay def. Frank Sforza by submission (guillotine choke)
— Don Shainis def. Matthew Denning by TKO
— Jordan Young def. Alec Hooben by submission (triangle choke)
— Costello Van Steenis def. Steve Skrzat by submission (strikes)
— Joaquin Buckley def. Vinicius DeJesus by split decision
— Pete Rogers def. Timothy Wheeler by submission (guillotine choke)
— Dean Hancock def. John Beneduce by TKO