Gegard Mousasi has had an uneven UFC career. But that's certainly not because of any lacking skill set.
After battling injuries and inactivity, he was firing on all cylinders in the main event of UFC Fight Night 41, which took place in Berlin, Germany, and aired Saturday afternoon in the United States. Known mainly as a boxing specialist, Mousasi showed outstanding takedown defense and grappling, submitting Mark Munoz with a rear-naked choke at the three-minute, 57-second mark of the very first round.
Here's what we learned from the bout.
What we'll remember about this fight
This could be the true UFC coming-out party for Mousasi. Now 35-4-2 in his career and 2-1 in the Octagon, he is highly skilled and experienced, but his career on the biggest stage of MMA has failed to launch.
A marquee light heavyweight contest with Alexander Gustafsson was scuttled after the Swede was injured late in training camp. Mousasi defeated replacement Ilir Latifi, but the fight was unimpressive, and Mousasi later revealed he fought with a knee injury.
A year of recovery later, he went the distance at middleweight with Lyoto Machida but lost by decision.
Saturday was different, and it was easily Mousasi's best UFC performance to date. It will be very interesting to see with whom the UFC pairs him next. More on that below.
What we learned about Gegard Mousasi
His grappling acumen is very good. We knew he was well-rounded, but no one knew he could outwrestle a standout wrestler like Munoz.
Mousasi resisted the takedown shot and then dragged Munoz to the ground, took the back, locked in his hooks, stretched Munoz out, sunk in the deep choke and forced the tap. It was surgical in its precision, and it was very nice to watch, especially given the opponent.
Mousasi was clinical. One of his best performances to date. #UFCBerlin— Harry Williams (@Harry_Williams) May 31, 2014
The former college wrestling champion may have farther to go before he's a great MMA grappler.
Yes, Mousasi looked great, but Munoz didn't offer much resistance. He gave up his back too easily and tapped to the choke very quickly.
It looked like some air went out of the Munoz balloon after Mousasi turned away an early, super-aggressive takedown attempt. If Munoz really wants to be a contender, he'll have to show more next time.
Domination. Munoz had absolutely nothing for Mousasi.— CagePotato.com (@cagepotatomma) May 31, 2014
How about Tim Kennedy? He's coming off a win over Michael Bisping and is another good wrestler.
People forget that Mousasi is still a relatively young dude in this sport. Very impressive. Excited for his next one!— Dave Sholler (@Sholler_UFC) May 31, 2014
Another loser from Saturday's card: one Francis Carmont. He looked pretty good in a loss to C.B. Dollaway. If Munoz again fails to summon his A-game, he could be a three-time loser in no time flat.