Strikeforce Fight Week Previews: Gegard Mousasi vs. Sokoudjou
Grab a pen and write this down: In no more than three years time, Gegard Mousasi will be considered the best Mixed Martial Artist on the planet.
Remember who told you that when everyone who follows the sport is fawning over the Armenian-born, Dutch-raised soon-to-be superstar.
Saturday night, fight fans will get to see why the man known as "The Dreamcatcher" is on the verge of becoming a household name and one of the top pound-for-pound performers in the sport.
Gegard Mousasi (26-2-1) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (7-4-0)
The training camp component might be the only win Sokoudjou can steal from Mousasi as "The African Assassin" gets his instructions from Dan Henderson and company at Team Quest in Temecula, California.
However, it's not like Mousasi comes from some scrub gym either; the guy is Fedor Emelianenko's boxing coach with Red Devil. Training on a daily basis with the best in the business certainly counts for something.
The only reason this isn't a win for Mousasi is the relative lack of depth with the Russian outfit, compared to the laundry list of competitors who call Team Quest their home.
Here is where things get awful impressive for the 24-year-old Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champ.
Saturday marks his 30th fight as a professional and he's riding a 12-fight winning streak. By comparison, Sokoudjou will only be making his 12th appearance in the cage.
There was a time a couple of years ago where Sokoudjou was in Mousasi's shoes; a highly-regarded prospect coming off two shocking upsets in Pride. But after beating Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona on back-to-back Pride cards, things went south for Soko.
While Mousasi's conquests may not have the same name brand cache as his opponent's signature wins, don't be fooled. Hector Lombard and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza are Top 20 Middleweights. And there isn't a long line of people looking to step into the cage with Cyborg Santos or Melvin Manhoef, all of whom have been beaten Mousasi.
What makes the streak of "The Dreamcatcher" all the more impressive is that he's done it across various weights and in various fashions. He submitted heavyweight Mark Hunt, outlasted the aforementioned Lombard, and forced the ref to call off his one minute beatdown of Renato "Babalu" Sobral in his North American debut.
Not to diminish the talents of Thierry Sokoudjou, but this isn't going to be close. The game plan for scoring a win is pretty well known.
Sokoudjou has a three minute gas tank, give or take 30 or 40 seconds. He comes out like gangbusters, expends all his energy and then is like a wounded gazelle being stalked by a pack of hungry lions.
Try as he might, it's only a matter of time before the end comes.
Though Mousasi showed a fierce aggressiveness in stopping Sobral last time, look for the young phenom to bide his time. He won't want to suffer the same upset fate that fell Arona and Little Nog back in Japan.
From there, expect to see his name start popping up on more and more pound-for-pound lists and people to mention his name in conversations about the future of the sport.
Just remember who told you all of this first.
Photo courtesy of the always outstanding Esther Lin.
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