On Saturday night, Gegard Mousasi entered the Strikeforce cage in hopes of defending his light heavyweight championship. His silent confidence helped to create an aura of invincibility, much like his training partner Fedor Emelianenko has for many years.
Depending on where you looked, Mousasi was ranked between fifth and seventh, and it was expected by most that Mousasi’s superior striking and big fight experience would eventually wear Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal.
The questions going into the fight were about how Lawal would react to facing a great striker and if he would be able to push through for five full rounds.
Against Lawal, Mousasi put up his most dismal performance to date.
Lawal dominated throughout the fight. Mousasi proved unable to defend Lawal’s world class wrestling and was put on his back from bell to bell.
Mousasi was worn out, and by the fifth round, it became clear that he was both physically and mentally drained. He had nothing left to offer.
So what do we take from this performance? Was Mousasi in fact overrated? Or just an off-night?
It was a little bit of both.
Mousasi has many impressive victories in his career and that can't be taken away from him. He has defeated many highly ranked fighters and proved to be an elite fighter.
Unfortunately, most of that took place at middleweight.
Mousasi defeated such names as Hector Lombard, Denis Kang, Ranaldo Souza and Melvin Manhoef at middleweight before moving up to light heavyweight.
At light heavyweight, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Renato Sobral are the biggest names Mousasi has defeated and perhaps was ranked too high based on those victories.
Stylistically, Lawal was a very poor match up as well. A kick boxer with jiu-jitsu skills will always struggle with a world class wrestler, especially when they have little take down defense.
Mousasi had never faced a good wrestler, especially one that was elite level.
Mousasi has admitted that he hates doing cardio and cutting weight. In today’s ever evolving mixed martial arts game, not doing either of those activities is unacceptable.
I am not saying that Mousasi can't be successful at light heavyweight, rather that he could probable be more successful at middleweight.
The good news for Mousasi is that he is still young. He will learn a lot from this experience.
As I mentioned, both cardio and take down defence will have to be addressed during his training, as well as perhaps jiu-jitsu off of his back.
Mousasi is still a great fighter, but perhaps it was a little bit too much too soon. He will hold gold again, he just needs to fill the holes in his game.