Gegard Mousasi might be the Rodney Dangerfield of MMA.
Outside of a diehard minority of fans who love him, Mousasi seems to always be written off despite a pretty impressive 34-3 career record and Strikeforce and DREAM titles to his name.
The Holland native doesn’t expect anything to change if he beats Lyoto Machida on Saturday at UFC Fight Night in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil.
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It’s gonna be who makes the least mistakes.
- Gegard Mousasi
"They’re probably gonna say I’m still not good," Mousasi told FOX Sports. "On the other hand, they’ll say, ‘Well he’s gonna lose against a wrestler.’ With me, I don’t know what it is. I think even after the win, I expect some criticism."
Mousasi, 28, is admittedly extremely laid back. There have been jokes that he’s labeled "The Dreamcatcher" because he’s always half asleep. Mousasi doesn’t necessarily think those remarks are unfair. He agrees he’s very "easy going." But he’s not sure how that translates into why people aren’t a fan of him as a fighter.
Granted, he might not be the most exciting brawler in the world. Mousasi said he made a mistake three years ago against Keith Jardine and still regrets. Instead of trying to just win, he tried to win in devastating fashion. It ended up being a draw and Mousasi said people still ask him why he didn’t beat the UFC veteran, who was, at the time, past his prime.
"If I would have fought smart I would have gotten an easy win," Mousasi said. "Instead, I thought, ‘I’m gonna knock him out and go fight him.’ It became more difficult, because I couldn’t knock him out."
On paper, Mousasi is a handful for any opponent. He’s a black belt in judo with an extensive background in both boxing and kickboxing. He’s also cerebral and he expects that kind of thinking-man’s fight Saturday against Machida. Unlike some of his other fights, Mousasi plans on being the aggressor against "The Dragon."
"It’s gonna be a technical fight, but I’m gonna bring the pressure a little bit," Mousasi said. "It’s gonna be who makes the least mistakes. He’s dangerous."
Dangerous and well known. A win over Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, would be the biggest of Mousasi’s career. And it could get him very close to a title shot in the middleweight division.
This will be Mousasi’s debut at 185 pounds and it’s a more natural weight class for him than 205, he said. The weight cut, he said, has been easy. His last fight, against Ilir Latifi, he came into the Octagon after weigh-ins at about 207 pounds, which is extremely small for a light heavyweight.
That Latifi fight is another one people point to when they bash Mousasi. But he had a torn ACL that night, not to mention absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose against a no-name opponent.
"He’s a wrestler," Mousasi said. "If I would have gone into the fight making it a fight he would have gotten a lot of chances. Then people would have complained Mousasi had a rough time."
He figures no matter what he does against Machida – win or lose – it won’t matter. So Mousasi is going to do him and try to get closer to that title shot regardless of what pundits are saying.
"People are still going to complain no matter what," he said.