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Gegard Mousasi: What Could Have Been?

Gegard Mousasi has one loss since 2006. Yet, he is one of the most easily forgotten high-level light-heavyweights in the UFC. He spent the bulk of his career first in PRIDE FC, then in Dream, then most recently in Strikeforce. He has racked up a career record of 33-3-2 with wins against Hector Lombard, Mark Hunt, Jacare Souza, “Babalu” Sobral, and Mike Kyle. If he had been in the UFC his entire career, he would be a well-known name in the light-heavyweight division. Instead, he is headlining a Fuel TV card against Ilir Latifi. Granted he was supposed to face Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fuel TV 9 on April 6, 2013, but he could have developed staple of the light-heavyweight division. Instead, he is trying to finally breakthrough at age 27.

Mousasi could have been challenging for a UFC belt throughout his career in Strikeforce. Instead he was relegated to taking on Mike Kyle and defending a meaningless belt. A supremely skilled fighter, he is a quality grappler as well as a dangerous striker. Could he have been champion at one point? Maybe. He never would have been able to defeat Jon Jones; his game is very similar to Shogun Rua and it’s likely he would meet the same fate if he ever faced the champion. But if he had been in the UFC during the Machida/Shogun title-era, it is very likely that Gegard Mousasi could have defeated either one of them to become UFC champion. Instead he won the Dream Light-Heavyweight Championship against Tatsuya Mizuno. Safe to say, Mousasi missed out on a great opportunity.

Even more than that, Mousasi has spent the latest part of his career beating up on guys who are much less skilled than he is. There is something to be said for sharpening your skills against the best in the world; Hector Lombard has learned first hand how difficult MMA can be when you are facing top fighters every time you fight. Instead of improving his skills against top fighters, Mousasi matched up with guys like Hiroshi Izumi and absolutely crushed them. As a guy who is 27, he only has so many years of growth before his skills start to decline. He may be in for a rude awakening like Lombard when he has to be on his game night in and night out. Mousasi got lazy and complacent in his bout against Mohammad Lawal and he lost. If he gets lazy or has an off-night or two in the UFC, the UFC won’t hesitate to cut him.

Mousasi has top-level talent but he may have a rough time adjusting to the UFC where every fighter he faces is the best in the world. The UFC didn’t cut him a break with his original matchup with Gustafsson and they won’t cut him any breaks going forward. Mousasi isn’t a young prospect anymore, he is in his prime. It is time for him to put up or shut up.

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