Many consider the 23 year old Armenian, Gegard Mousasi, one of the top five middleweights in the world. His unique blend of Dutch kickboxing and Judo has resulted in an impressive 24-2-1 record and the reputation of the most dangerous middleweight outside of the UFC.
Recently it was announced that Mousasi was leaving the realm of 185 lbs and is entering the ranks of the lightheavy weights. To welcome the 'Young Vagabond' DREAM has arranged for very talented UFC flunk out Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.
Mousasi's choice to move up a weightclass has left some scratching their heads, such a dominate, young fighter with a unique blend of skills leaving his weightclass and title?
Outside of the UFC the middleweight division does get a little thin, Mousasi is the big name that has never made an appearance in the UFC. Robbie Lawler jumps to mind as a highly rated non-UFC middleweight but it would require a leap to the smaller promotion of Strikeforce-Elite XC from the larger, Japan based DREAM.
Jorge Santiago is another middleweight possibility but his poor stint in the UFC, including a KO loss to Chris Leben hangs a bit over his head. Similarly Vitor Belfort has the talent of a top fighter, but has an inconsistent past that makes Mousasi v Belfort a tough sell as a 'superfight'.
Moving to LHW gives Mousasi the option of a true superfight by jumping to Affliciton and fighting Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira.
It also seems Mousasi is looking to answer the size questions in the first fight facing a much larger fighter. While Sokoudjou and Mousasi are both 6'0", Sokoudjou could easily fight at heavyweight and is an extremely powerful striker.
Mousasi on the otherhand has a similar body type to Dan Henderson, a very slim and lean 6'0" (6'1" in Henderson's case) but a strentgh and leverage beyond the eyeball test.
Sokoudjou also is a very interesting blend of Mauy Thai and Judo, but guard and cardio have been serious problems and as a result his results have yet to match his talent. He has power to spare and could take Mousasi's head off with a solid kick and will likely be able to muscle the smaller Armenian around.
Sokoudjou's biggest advantage aside from size is his unmatched explosiveness in the the first round, he commits to strikes like no other fighter and this really is the reason why he runs out of gas so quickly.
Mousasi's main advantage will lay on the ground, with 8 submissions wins. Mousasi also has superior footwork and can paint the canvas until Sokoudjou gasses himself out. Mousasi's main concern is not allowing Sokoudjou to smother him with size and strength.
Sokoudjou is in something of a lose-lose situation, if he wins he simply beat a smaller fighter who made a mistake moving up a weightclass. If Sokoudjou looses, it will be his third in a row and fourth in five fights, a virtual death sentence for his big promotion hopes.
In any event I certianly will be watching when these two collide.
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