By Joshua Molina
The Armenian Assassin Gegard Mousasi said his return to the cage is imminent and that he expects he will soon fight in the UFC.
“If everything goes well, I will be headed to the UFC,” Mousasi told Full Contact Fighter, in an exclusive interview. Mousasi is currently in training, although he said he cannot yet disclose where and when he will be fighting next.
Mousasi said he will soon fly to Los Angeles from his home in Leider, Holland to continue training.
“I have a fight coming up soon, but I can’t say anything yet,” Mousasi said. “They will announce it.”
He said his camp is in negotiations with the UFC, so expect to see him fighting in the Octagon.
“UFC is the biggest organization, so everyone’s goal is to be in the UFC,” Mousasi said. “The best thing is for me to go to the UFC as soon as possible. The UFC is the biggest and, if you can make your name there, that is the goal.”
When and if he gets there he said he plans to fight as a light heavyweight and would like to battle Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
“That would be a good fight,” Mousasi said. “That would be an exciting fight. He’s the kind of guy who likes to fight. I like to fight guys like him who come to fight instead of fight(ing) to win.”
If he loses, however, Mousasi said he would drop down to 185 pounds and fight as a middleweight, a weight class he believes he could dominate in.
“I am 100 percent positive about my abilities to beat anybody,” Mousasi said. “I don’t doubt myself I just have to have my priorities right. I know I can beat anybody.”
Mousasi has taken the long, tortured road to the UFC.
He injured himself while training for a fight against Mike Kyle in Strikeforce. While in training camp a guy shot for a takedown on him. He turned and felt his knee pop.
“It was swollen, but I gave it a two-week rest,” Mousasi said.
When it didn’t get better, he realized he had torn his ACL.
The injury came after Mousasi’s impressive victory over a hot Ovince St. Preux. The injury derailed Mousasi’s momentum and goal of recapturing his Strikeforce light heavyweight championship.
“It was very difficult for me to sit and do nothing,” Mousasi said. “I don’t have any sponsors and, without fighting, I don’t have income.”
Mousasi, 27, was born in Iran to Armenian parents. His family moved to Holland when he was a boy. At 8 years old, Mousasi’s father took Gegard to a judo class and the young man fell in love with the sport. Today, he has a black belt in judo.
“When I was younger I did it because I wanted to be the best,” Mousasi said. “Now it is not just about the love of the sport. It is also about the money.”
Mousasi (left) seized the Strikeforce light heavyweight title from Renato “Babalu” Sobral (right) on Aug. 15, 2009.
Mousasi is already among the sport’s best. He is the former DREAM light heavyweight champion and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
While the name “Armenian Assassin,” is derived through the alliterative connection to his bloodline, he easily, and perhaps more appropriately could be called the “Silent Assassin.”
Mousasi is about as even-tempered and smooth in an MMA fight as a fighter could be.
He’s focused, calculated and rarely does he waste a punch or kick. Tiger-like in his offense, he’s cobra-like in his defense.
He can fight coiled up from his back and torment his opponents with as much fear and power as if he were on top. He once knocked out “Jacare” Souza with a wicked upkick from his back as Jacare was leaning clumsily over him looking to land a punch to the face.
Mousasi is one of those rare guys who makes fighting look easy and effortless. There’s no wild trash-talking inside the cage, or even a display of much of a personality.
He’s like the private investigator, no, more like the hit man, sitting next to you at the coffee shop, studying your every move as you sit naively sipping your morning coffee.
He’s watching and waiting, and you have no idea.
He’s that good, and, if he stays focused, could make a dramatic impact in the UFC.
“I don’t feel a lot before the fight or after the fight or during the fight,” Mousasi said. “I don’t have any emotion. I don’t feel a lot. I am a little bit numb.”
Mousasi was riding high on top of the sport until he stepped into the cage against Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal, a former Division II National Wrestling champion, in Nashville on April 17, 2010.
Not only will that night go down as the night that Strikeforce died on CBS because of a post-fight brawl between Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Jake Shields and company, but it is also the night that Mousasi temporarily lost his mojo.
Mousasi was simply unable to stop King Mo’s wrestling takedowns. Even though Mo was largely exhausted during the fight, he took Mousasi down at will and controlled him on the mat. Mousasi peppered Mo’s face with right and left hands from his back throughout the match, but it wasn’t enough to convince the judges that he was winning the fight.
At the end, King Mo’s left eye was swollen shut, but Mo only needed one good peeper to see the Strikeforce championship belt around his waist after upsetting Mousasi by unanimous decision.
The MMA world started to say that Mousasi was exposed. That his wrestling game was weak and that he was going to have a hard time reigning at the top of the sport if he can’t stop a wrestler’s takedown.
The criticism rattled Mousasi, who underneath the dark, warm, brooding eyes and lean muscular body, is somewhat of a humble man who takes criticism to heart.
What Mousasi learned from the defeat is that it isn’t enough to be good. He needs to be great and he needs to push himself in order to get there.
He was so successful at fighting that he didn’t train as well or as much as he could have to prepare for King Mo or someone like him.
“Training aspects were to blame in that fight,” Mousasi said. “It had to do with my mental attitude. I was not being pushed in training and I had a lack of sparring partners. I lived too much in a comfort zone and by making my own routines. It was going very easy in the past.”
Mousasi tasted gold and admiration from the world, and then spit it out. He knows better now and wants to resume his place as one of the best.
“Of course I want to go for a title, but a lot of people doubt me with my wrestling,” Mousasi said. “They will see that I have changed a lot of things in my training. The most important thing for me is to win my next couple of fights in an impressive way. My goal is to win and win impressively and then thing about a title shot.”
It’s hard to doubt that Mousasi won’t at least be competitive.
The truth is he’s never even been hurt in a fight. He’s never been rattled in training. Mousasi may have had trouble with his takedown defense, but he seems to have an invisible forcefield constantly protecting his face.
“I feel like I can lose a fight, but I can always protect myself,” Mousasi said, as surely as he knows his own name. “I don’t feel like I haven’t been caught very badly in a fight. I am confident that I can protect myself. That is something that has given my confidence. I am a careful fighter.”
Careful, yet dangerous. He’s 32-3, with 28 wins by either KO or submission. Besides King Mo, his two other losses came by armbar submission early in his career. Mousasi said he no longer will take his abilities for granted. He will train hard and train with the best.
Although he has many options, he said he’s considering training at the Glendale Fighting Club.
Mousasi believes that he’s going to shock a lot of people.
“Whatever happens I am looking for the belt,” Mousasi said. “This time I will do it correctly as far as sparring partners, trainers. I am expecting to be the best when I fight. There’s going to be a new fighter. If I perform badly it won’t be because of my training. Whatever it is, I will be 100 percent ready.”