Gegard Mousasi vs. Mark Munoz: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
This weekend will feature a very important fight in the UFC middleweight division.
Contenders Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz will square off on Saturday from Berlin, Germany.
The bout will serve as the main event for UFC Fight Night 41 and will ultimately produce the next top title threat in a budding 185-pound crop.
Here is how the two mean stack up against each other in the always telling head-to-toe breakdown.
Munoz is a naturally powerful guy.
He's bulky, athletic and certainly knows how to let loose when the opportunity presents itself.
However, as capable as he is, Munoz doesn't come from the same shell that Mousasi does.
Mousasi incorporates well-rounded boxing skills and the one-punch ability to add to an already impressive collection of 18 career finishes by knockout or TKO.
Munoz might even the meter out slightly if you consider his prowess in top position, but on the feet, Mousasi is one of the better maulers in the division.
Not to knock Munoz, but when comparing him to a guy who possesses the fluidity and natural movement on his feet that Mousasi does, it's hard not to consider him a fish out of water.
That doesn't mean that Munoz is a robot who only knows how to take someone down, but he doesn't have the striking tools that the Armenian does.
Mousasi is arguably one of the more effective strikers in the weight class, not to mention accomplished. He wasn't able to demonstrate his full pallet opposite Lyoto Machida back in February, but who has?
Their separation isn't black and white, but if anyone is going to land an unorthodox strike or a mixture of penetrating offensive attacks, it's going to be Mousasi.
Staying with the striking department, durability could play a major role come Saturday.
Since this is going to be a main event, it has the potential to be a five-round battle of attrition and Octagon longevity.
There's no doubting that Munoz is an absolute wrecking machine, hence his nickname, but his chin has cracked under pressure in the past and that's something that could resurface against a pressuring opponent like Mousasi.
As it stands right now, Mousasi has never been finished by strikes. That includes 40 professional mixed martial arts bouts, 13 amateur boxing fights and eight kickboxing matches.
In Munoz's case, three out of his four career loses have come by way of one-strike knockouts, including two in his last three UFC appearances.
Anything is possible, obviously, but if this fight turns into an all-out war, expect the seasoned Mousasi to reign supreme.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: MOUSASI
Whether or not Munoz can outwork Mousasi in the grappling game could spell the difference between winning and losing for the Filipino.
It's difficult to determine who has the immediate advantage. Mousasi possesses more career finishes by submission, including a kimura on Mark Hunt, but you'd have to assume Munoz's black belt will separate the two middleweights when the tough gets going.
With a more natural frame for ground work, Munoz should be able to keep Mousasi in defensive mode if this fight happens to be contested in close quarters.
It's going to be hard to submit a guy like Mousasi, but Munoz should be able to gain an edge as far as positioning, points and posture are concerned.
This is the one aspect of the fight that Munoz clearly has locked up.
That's not to say that Mousasi doesn't have a suitable takedown defense or isn't capable of standing up when he's dropped on his back, but Munoz isn't the type of guy you want on top of you.
Blessed with excellent balance and technique, he's capable of staying on top of his opponent for an entire round. A dreaded course of events like that would leave Mousasi depleted and unable to explode on his feet.
If Munoz can pace himself, remain unpredictable on his feet and is able to drive Mousasi against the cage, he should be able to bring this fight to his domain in order to grind a divisional standout away.
MAJOR ADVANTAGE: MUNOZ
Nobody is arguing that Munoz doesn't possess the work ethic or overall skill set to defeat a guy like Mousasi this weekend in Europe.
However, when you consider that Munoz has been finished in two of his last three fights, has never looked elite when stacked up against stiffer competition and could be on the downside of his career at the age of 36, Mousasi seems like the clear favorite.
However, all that stuff means nothing when you're talking intangibles. Maybe momentum, but not the gutty, gritty, immeasurable assets that give a fighter an extra level to his game.
Unfortunately for Munoz, Mousasi has that, too.
His track record for winning by any means and finishing when he sees blood is all you need to know when these two lock horns this weekend.
Munoz is a heck of a nice guy.
He's a student of the sport, friendly with the media and has already begun a transformation into coaching.
That said, win or lose, Munoz has limited time to make one last run at the title.
Considering he's about three victories away from doing that, the point seems moot.
Since the imaginary window is closing on Munoz and Mousasi is the more well-rounded offensive weapon, it makes sense to go with the winning ticket.
It may not be pretty, but expect Mousasi to either finish Munoz late or score enough points on his feet to win a five-round decision.
VERDICT: MOUSASI VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
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