Gegard Mousasi used to be such a mild-mannered and quiet young man.
Back when hardcore mixed martial arts fans first began to take real notice of Mousasi, he was quietly fighting in PRIDE, sparring with Fedor Emelianenko and fighting much larger men in DREAM's ill-fated and yet awesome Super Hulk tournament.
Through it all, Mousasi never said much of anything. Seemingly modeled after Emelianenko's subdued take on The Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and yes, I am aware this is not a reference everyone will understand; those who do will appreciate it even more), he spoke softly (or not at all) and carried a big stick.
Those were the old days; these are the new. Mousasi may still carry the same big stick he used to, but he's no longer speaking softly.
Ever since his UFC debut against llir Latifi, Mousasi has been vocal about telling the world exactly who he wants to fight. He's considering a move to middleweight (and has been for quite some time), and so he wants to fight Vitor Belfort. Makes sense, right? Belfort is one of the top contenders in the division, and yet he's not getting a title shot until Chris Weidman makes good on his promise to grant Anderson Silva a rematch.
Belfort even refuses to fight at middleweight unless it's for the championship. Not a top contender. Not a fight the fans want to see. Only a championship match is good enough for Belfort to make the cut to 185 pounds.
And so Mousasi figures he'll just challenge him at whatever weight Belfort wants. Here's what he told MMAjunkie.com:
I will make this easy on Vitor. If he is going to continue to make conditions on who he will fight, I will face Vitor at a catchweight or at light heavyweight. At the end of the day, I want to fight the best guys for the title. I don't turn down fights.
Mousasi is, of course, referencing the fact that Belfort does turn down fights. He turned down a fight with Tim Kennedy, in fact. I suppose Mousasi is hoping to rile Belfort up a bit, to take a few potshots at him and piss him off just enough so that he'll accept the fight.
Here's the problem with that scenario, though, and it's one I'm not sure Mousasi is considering: Let's all remember what happened to the last two guys who had the temerity to talk trash about Belfort before they stepped in the cage with him. Yeah. Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold did the same thing, and things didn't end up too well for them.
Perhaps Mousasi will ultimately get what he wants. But in doing so, he might get something he doesn't really want: a brutal knockout loss.