Gegard Mousasi: This is a do or die fight against Dan Henderson

Gegard Mousasi knows he needs to show up big against Dan Henderson

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Gegard Mousasi knows exactly why he had such an abysmal showing in his fight against Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza last September — he wanted to be anywhere but the Octagon that night.

Mousasi tells FOX Sports that a month long delay that pushed his fight with Souza back after UFC 177 was cancelled along with nagging injuries that plagued him since early 2014 finally took their toll.

As he walked up the steps into the Octagon to face Souza back in September, Mousasi just wasn’t in the mood to fight and a third round submission loss quickly proved it.

"I think exhaustion, burn out a little bit, and I came from an injury right away after the (Lyoto) Machida fight and then straight to the Mark Munoz fight straight to the Jacare fight and then being delayed again, I think it was just too much in a row," Mousasi said.  "Just walking into the cage, I wasn’t in the mood for fighting. I didn’t want to be there.  The fighting spirit or whatever, I was lacking that."

I win and I get to face the other top guys and I have the chance to be a contender again. Otherwise, I’m just going to go out of the top ten. I’m not relevant anymore. It’s a do or die fight.

— Gegard Mousasi

Mousasi’s training camp was probably the first clue that he wasn’t truly ready to fight against after beating Munoz in May.  Instead of working hard to get better, the Iranian born middleweight was just going through the motions and basically had to force himself to go to the gym everyday.

"I was going on training on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but by Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I was just dragging myself there.  Nothing came out," Mousasi said.  "Once you go into the cage like that and you don’t feel great, it just didn’t help at all."

With more than 40 professional MMA bouts on his record, Mousasi knows he should have recognized the problems right away and bowed out of the contest, but once he signed the contract he was committed to fight.

Following the loss and uninspired performance, Mousasi promises to never put himself in that same position again.

"I’m not going to take fights just to fight," Mousasi said.  "After this fight, I’m going to take a break, heal up and once I’m ready, then I’ll take another fight.  Being ready mentally and physically is important. It was just too much that fight."

Mousasi can’t live with regrets too much, but he does have to face facts when it comes to his standing in the UFC, particularly in the middleweight division.  He’s currently 2-2 in the promotion with both of his defeats coming to top ranked fighters in the weight class.

There’s some solace in knowing that he’s only losing to the best of the best at 185-pounds, but it’s not going to get him a second place trophy and it certainly won’t push Mousasi any closer to his life long dream of competing for a UFC title.

He knows going into his fight with Dan Henderson at FOX UFC Fight Night from Sweden this weekend that a win pushes him back into contention, but a loss likely ends any chance he’ll ever have at a real run at the top of the middleweight division.

"It’s very big. After a loss, you have to pick yourself up again and it’s difficult.  I think a win over Henderson is going to put me a little bit higher and give me a chance against someone in the top five.  It’s a very important fight.  I win and I get to face the other top guys and I have the chance to be a contender again," Mousasi said.

"Otherwise, I’m just going to go out of the top ten. I’m not relevant anymore.  It’s a do or die fight."

Understanding the gravity of the situation he’s in gives Mousasi the proper mindset to attack this fight with the kind of ferocity he was lacking in his last matchup with Souza.  He’s done everything in his power to come away with a win and if that’s not enough then there’s no excuse in defeat.

"I think this fight, I’m just going to go and leave it all out there," Mousasi said. "I’ve done everything I should have done this time.  I’m in great shape. I know I’ve done everything I should have done in training.  I know I can push hard for three rounds. I’m going to go and leave it all out there.  I’m very confident I can win this fight. It all comes down to doing the right thing with the weight cut and the fight, but there’s no way I see myself losing this fight."

To make sure you catch all of the action from FOX UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Johnson check out our viewing and schedule guide for everything going down in Stockholm, Sweden.