Article by Dave Walsh
Gegard Mousasi is, for all intents and purposes, a bit of a freak when it comes to raw ability and skill. When it comes to striking, Mousasi is generally an effortless fighter who has made a steady career for himself somewhere near the top of the heap through a rather lackluster training schedule and not having to really take his training all-that-seriously.
It is hard to blame him, as Mousasi did just about anything that he set his mind to. After being knocked out of the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix in 2006 he went on a tear, winning the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix and becoming the first DREAM Middleweight Champion, only to cast that title aside and say that he’d move up in weight. This brought him to Strikeforce where he won the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship, all the while he dabbled at Heavyweight MMA and Kickboxing in Japan, having success.
He lost the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title to King Mo Lawal in a fight that exposed his lack of wrestling before returning to Japan to win DREAM’s Light Heavyweight Championship. It was a career that had a few losses on it from his lack of training in some of the parts of Mixed Martial Arts, but a rather successful career that he didn’t have to put a ton of effort into.
This brings him into his UFC debut, after lack of competition in Japan and Strikeforce being dissolved it was the only logical move for Mousasi and everyone was excited. The original bout of Alexander Gustafsson was no doubt a tough matchup for Mousasi, who actually put in a professional training camp for this fight, but when Gustafsson was forced to pull out, it left late replacement Ifil Latifi to fight Mousasi. For any other fighter this would be a dream come true; an easier opponent for your debut in a big league, a guy who was relatively inexperienced and who was susceptible to his striking.
The only problem happened when the bell rang and it was time to perform, when Mousasi simply didn’t perform. It was one of the safest and lackluster performances that one could imagine from a hyped fighter coming in to the UFC and being offered an immediate main event slot. Fans have been quick to defend Mousasi, but the reality is, if this was a GSP performance a lot of those fans would be all over him for not trying to finish. Mousasi might not of had a lot to gain by putting on a risky performance, he also has put his career in the hands of the likes of UFC brass who have shown favoritism towards exciting fighters who deliver when they need to, which Mousasi did not do.
Mousasi quite simply never looked like he cared about the fight and I would not be surprised if the next time that we saw Mousasi he was buried deep on an undercard somewhere, with this fight setting him back quite a bit.