Few men are as enigmatically hit and miss throughout their career as Gegard Mousasi has been through his. Mousasi has looked a marvel in every area of combat throughout his career at some point but has had equally lack luster performances in each area as well. This is the kind of man who can easily handle crafty veterans, but look slow and lethargic against Sokoudjou.
Because of his extensive work with the great Fedor Emelianenko and his rounded skill set, Mousasi has found himself with a lot to live up to. Many consider him the spiritual successor to Fedor, himself arguably the best all around fighter in MMA to date.
There is an awful lot to say about Mousasi based on all the times he has looked like a world beater and all the times that he has looked flat and mediocre but today I want to focus on perhaps the most out of character thing he has done to date. In 2010 Mousasi, then with a 4-0 record in kickboxing and no bouts since 2008, took on the K-1 Heavyweight Champion, Kyotaro and beat him decisively.
Kyotaro, who holds significant wins over Melvin Manhoef, Peter Aerts and Jerome Le Banner, has not fought in kickboxing since. Instead he disappeared to a mediocre career in boxing. How then did a man who had knocked out Melvin Manhoef and Peter Aerts in kickboxing bouts come to lose to an MMA fighter with just four kickboxing matches on his record?
Well truly styles make fights and Gegard Mousasi brought a style to the table against which Kyotaro just couldn't get his game going. To understand why Kyotaro was an oddity in K-1 I recommend taking a look at this video which I prepared.
Kyotaro existed as a perfect foil to the combination strikers who swamp the ranks of K-1. Men like Melvin Manhoef and Peter Aerts who excelled in the Dutch style of kickboxing (focusing on throwing a punching combination, punctuated by a low kick) played directly into Kyotaro's style, chasing him and then having their combination broken by his right hand counters.
How did Mousasi not only out point but floor the Japanese stand out? Mainly through use of an excellent jab. In MMA and kickboxing strong jabs are few and far between but against Kyotaro, Mousasi's jab carried the day.
From the start of the bout Mousasi was not looking to corner Kyotaro and swing at him, but used long strikes which Kyotaro had little chance of effectively countering such as the jab and teep.
Once Mousasi was beginning to build up something of a points lead in the first round, Kyotaro started firing the burst combinations which he uses when opponents are not chasing him aggressively enough to eat his counters.
This was when Mousasi's jab really came into its own as he snapped Kyotaro's head back every time the Japanese stand out stepped in. Mousasi also easily evaded Kyotaro's many inside thigh kicks and fired back low kicks of his own.
The quality of video available on this fight has prompted me to use video footage to demonstrate how the fight unfolded instead of stills.
You can see that where Manhoef and Aerts were happy to charge after Kyotaro when he ran, Mousasi was happy to send him on his way with a stiff jab or front kick and return to his guard. Getting out pointed by an MMA fighter had to have an affect on Kyotaro as he abandoned his traditional run and counter style in favor of attacking the bigger punching Armenian.
While this was far from the best incarnation of Kyotaro—taking this freak fight just two weeks after a grueling match with Semmy Schilt—Mousasi certainly showed that he had one of the better jabs outside of professional boxing and a strategic mind to go with it.
This may not seem to have much baring on his upcoming UFC debut, but Alexander Gustafsson is not far removed from Kyotaro in style on the feet. He relies on hyperactive footwork to convince his opponents to chase him, and this works a treat against easily frustrated bangers like Thiago Silva. Silva simply charged after Gustafsson, face first, as he did with Machida and ate counter right hands for his troubles.