In an almost eight-year mixed martial arts career, Gegard Mousasi has put together a record of 30-3-1. Mousasi is the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, former DREAM middleweight champion and current DREAM light heavyweight champion. Despite these accolades, he is also one of the most underrated fighters in MMA today.
The 25-year-old Mousasi was scheduled to meet Mike Kyle on Saturday April 9 on the Strikeforce: Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley card. Kyle was forced to withdraw from the fight due to a broken hand and former UFC fighter Keith Jardine agreed to take his place on very short notice.
Recently, Bleacher Report was able to speak to Mousasi about his upcoming Strikeforce bout as well as several other topics.
Mousasi initially feared the worst when he learned that Kyle was injured and forced to withdraw from the fight, "This was the third time they canceled the fight," Mousasi said. "First I was promised February, then I was promised March that I would fight and now it was April. Every time it got delayed because of Mike Kyle’s hand, so I thought it was going to be canceled. Luckily, Keith Jardine stepped in."
With little more than a week before fight night, Mousasi seemed to take the change in opponents in stride, "It’s not going to matter a lot, it’s a fight, so we’re going to fight. He’s (Jardine) more of a stand-up fighter. So, it’s not like suddenly I’m going to fight a wrestler. It’s not going to affect a lot."
While many will see Mousasi as the odds-on favorite to win this fight, Mousasi looks at Jardine as a dangerous commodity, "He’s got nothing to lose and this is his way back to Zuffa or the UFC and he’s a dangerous opponent," said Mousasi. "He beat Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, both former UFC champions. He’s not someone to take lightly. He can be dangerous in his awkward stand-up."
"This kind of fight is where I have the most to lose because people expect me to win, especially since he’s taking the fight on such short notice. This is the type of fight that I can’t win a lot, because if I win they’ll say that, 'well, you won over somebody that wasn’t prepared,' and if I lose, it’s (to) somebody that got kicked out of the UFC."
"It’s a difficult situation and there’s not much I can gain."
"Not to disrespect Jardine, but say I would fight Jon Jones; if I would lose people still would say, ‘Jon Jones is the God and he won and he’s the pound-for-pound (best).’ If I would lose to Keith Jardine people would say ‘he’s (Mousasi) overrated.’ There’s more to lose, that’s what I mean. It’s not like I don’t have respect for Keith Jardine."
As far as what the fight against Jardine means for his future and a shot at current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, Dan Henderson, Mousasi said, "I hope I get a fight with Dan Henderson, but that’s not up to me. It all depends on how I perform (against Jardine)."
"If I win, but put on a lazy performance, maybe then they don’t consider I’m worthy of a title shot. It all depends on how I perform and what Scott Coker decides and if the fans wanted to see that fight. I just can do my best and we go from there, but of course I would love to fight for the title."
As far as his DREAM title, Mousasi feels that he will defend that belt near the end of 2011 in Japan, possibly on a New Year's Eve card. Until then he hopes to be active with Strikeforce in 2011, "I heard something in July that Dan Henderson would fight in July, just a rumor, so if I win this fight maybe I’ll get the title shot two or three months later. I would be happy to fight two or three times this year (for Strikeforce.)"
"If I don’t win this fight, I don’t know when the next fight is going to be because I won’t get a title shot and it’s going to take even longer before I get back to action. So, it’s important to win this fight."
Asked if he thought a win against Jardine would catapult him into the top-10 rankings, Mousasi was dismissive of rankings, "I’m not worried about top-10 (rankings) because I’ve seen how fast things can go."
"I’ve seen Lyoto Machida on the list of (best) pound-for-pound fighters, in the top three, and one fight later he wasn’t even in the top 10. The rankings aren’t important, performance is much more important and how you match up against certain fighters."
Mousasi will meet Jardine on the main card of the Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley card. The main card will be broadcast on Showtime on Saturday, April 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.