Strikeforce Diaz vs. Daley: Why Gegard Mousasi Will Be Big in 2011

Andrew MahlmannCorrespondent IApril 5, 2011

Gegard Mousasi is an international superstar in MMA, revered by most hardcore fans.  

Casual fans might not pay much attention to him because he does not fight in the UFC....but things could be turning around for "The Dreamcatcher."

2011 could be the young star's truly breakout year, and this is why:

He is fighting Keith Jardine on April 9

No doubt that Keith Jardine is an elite fighter and a dangerous opponent. He is also is a bit of a showcase fight for many of his opponents.

A victory over Keith Jardine has helped many fighters in many ways.

It can announce you to the world (Houston Alexander). It can turn you from prospect to contender (Ryan Bader). It can emphatically bounce you back into the top 10 (Thiago Silva), and it can even completely reignite your career (Wanderlei Silva).

It will not be easy, but Mousasi's first step would be making a big statement against Keith Jardine this Saturday.

He is no longer with M-1 Global

Mousasi has been a friend and training partner of Fedor Emelianenko, and was even signed under Emelianenko's infamously shady management company, M-1 Global.

That experience no doubt helped mature Mousasi, and educate him to the many aspects of the international fight business, but now he is ready to go out and make the best decisions he can for himself...which could include doing business with the people running the UFC.

ZUFFA now owns Strikeforce

With Zuffa now owning Strikeforce, Mousasi's potential accomplishments will be reaching a much larger audience, and the door will be open to transition into the UFC.

If Mousasi beats Jardine, then he is almost guaranteed to be the top contender for Strikeforce's light heavyweight champion, Dan Henderson. 

If I tried, I probably could not overstate the significance of a championship victory over a legend like Dan Henderson.

Collision course with Jon "Bones" Jones

For his first title defense, Jon Jones is a huge favorite over former champ and No.1 contender Rashad Evans.

If Jones smashes Evans like he has all his other opponents, the MMA community will become restless trying to speculate who could be his biggest threat.

Enter Gegard Mousasi.

Mousasi is an elite kickboxer and submission specialist who has a killer instinct. He is also as mentally strong as they come.

Both fighters are very young and dynamic. This could become a rivalry to define the sport.