Missed Opportunity: Should the UFC Have Gone After Gegard Mousasi?
You probably recognize the man on the right.
At the very least, you've heard of him. He goes by the name of Fedor.
During the week since the fall of Affliction, Dana White and the UFC spent hours on end trying to negotiate a deal that would bring the Russian heavyweight into the fold and set up a pay-per-view bonanza against Brock Lesnar.
But maybe some of that time should have been spent talking to the guy on the left.
His name is Gegard Mousasi.
Although focusing on Fedor was obviously the right move and one the UFC had to make, failure to land the biggest fish in the sea opens the door to speculation and second-guessing, two things I'm reasonably good at.
Fedor is the present; a massive star amongst the die-hard MMA community and a name thrown around enough by White to have stirred up interest within the casual and less-addicted set.
To me, Mousasi is the future; an incredibly talented fighter who just recently celebrated his 24th birthday and is riding a 12-fight winning streak.
While Fedor would certainly have been the best business decision for right now, perhaps his training partner from the Red Devil Sport Club would have been a better long-term addition?
It's hard not to be enamoured with "The Dreamcatcher."
Though he's spent most of his career competing at middleweight, Mousasi took part in the opening round of the DREAM Super Hulk Tournament, earning a submission win over Mark Hunt, despite being considerably outweighed.
Also left in his wake en route to a sterling 28-2-1 record have been Bellator tournament winner Hector Lombard, Pride and UFC veteran Denis Kang and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, whom Mousasi defeated to capture the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix last year.
Frustrated by the demise of Affliction and the cancellation of his North American debut, the Dutch star voiced his frustrations on Fight Network Radio, giving the UFC a shout out in the process:
But in the midst of trying to land Fedor, a glorious opportunity to secure one of the best up-and-coming talents in the sport came and went in the blink of an eye.
Shortly after his frustrated comments, Mousasi's scheduled fight with Renato "Babalu" Sobral was picked up by Strikeforce and will now have Sobral's Light Heavyweight title on the line.
Additionally, MMA Junkie reported Mousasi inked a deal with the San Jose-based fight promotion and will not simply be taking part on loan from M-1 Global, meaning the UFC's chance has come and gone.
As I said off the top, I don't fault the UFC for focusing all their attention on trying to land Fedor. It's what the fans wanted, it's what they wanted, and it would have been massive for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
But you had to know the negotiations where going to be a bitch; after all, this wasn't the first time Zuffa made a push for "The Last Emperor" to no avail.
And while bringing in Vitor Belfort and welcoming Tito Ortiz back into the fold are quality moves, landing a 24-year-old superstar-in-waiting who you could have groomed into the next face of the franchise would have been even better.
I know the UFC is way out in front, but mark this one down in the win column for Strikeforce.
Come back in two weeks when Mousasi takes Babalu's belt so that I can say, "I told you so" too.
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