UFC on Fuel 9 Results: 5 Fights for Gegard Mousasi to Take Next
But no matter what, a win is a win.
Although Mousasi was originally scheduled to fight a very different opponent in top-ranked Swedish talent Alexander Gustafsson, "The Dreamcatcher" nonetheless pitched a perfect game against last-minute replacement Ilir Latifi.
With a victory at UFC on Fuel 9 in his pocket, it's time to look ahead—exactly who should the 34-3-2 former Strikeforce and multi-division DREAM champion face next?
Mousasi said it himself: If Gustafsson wants to try it again, he doesn't mind fighting him.
With Gustafsson's injured eye on its way to healing and Mousasi taking relatively little damage in his debut, it seems like the right match to make.
However, as UFC president Dana White relayed during the UFC on Fuel 9 post-fight show, Mousasi may need surgery on his knee.
Even if that's the case, it might behoove Mousasi to have his operation, get medically cleared and then face Gustafsson further down the road this year—even if "The Mauler" takes fights in the meantime.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Ryan Bader makes sense if Gustafsson falls off the face of the planet, forcing the UFC to play musical chairs again.
And while a title shot wouldn't be on the line, it's still a solid match.
Bader has mostly recovered his image after losing to Tito Ortiz by racking up three wins in his last four fights and scoring an efficient 50-second highlight-reel submission win over Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC on Fox 6.
It's not exactly the best style matchup for the wrestling-prone Mousasi, but the UFC isn't really a place where anyone gets many easy fights.
Winner of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua
Mousasi could be out for a while if he does undergo knee surgery, and fans can't expect Gustafsson to wait around forever.
Assuming that neither one of them is horribly injured coming out of their UFC 161 bout, the winner of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua makes sense as a possible opponent for Mousasi coming off a rehab stretch.
(Hopefully, they don't get injured beforehand, either.)
Neither Nogueira nor Rua is remotely close to a title shot against Jon Jones, but they're still top-ranked talent who can give Mousasi a quality match.
Forrest Griffin is the kind of opponent who can give Mousasi some name value.
Coasting along at 33 years old—but still managing his fair share of wins at light heavyweight—the original The Ultimate Fighter winner's best days are behind him, but he's no slouch.
In fact, this could be a risky bout from a matchmaking standpoint.
Standing taller than Mousasi with a broader frame and a slightly superior reach, Griffin is one of the UFC's larger fighters at 205 pounds.
Plus, his well-rounded MMA game could give Mousasi fits.
For both the hardcore fans and the casual crowd, Griffin vs. Mousasi would be more than a worthy headliner in just about any FX, Fuel TV or future Fox Sports card, if not a solid co-main event on a UFC pay-per-view.
Former Pride champion and MMA legend Wanderlei Silva played us all for fools when he posted on Twitter that the UFC asked him to replace Gustafsson in Sweden.
And Mousasi was ticked off, too.
Maybe now he can make things right by taking the fight in a future UFC event.
There's no reward in this match for Mousasi as far as the title hunt, but he said that he was more than willing to face Silva before.
So why not now?
Let's get these fighters on a fan-friendly event in Japan, under a title fight on a Fox/FX/Fuel card or a pay-per-view event.