After making a successful UFC debut in April 2013, former Strikeforce and DREAM champion Gegard Mousasi moved to the middleweight division and was immediately matched up against the top of the 185-pound weight class.
He hadn’t competed as a middleweight since 2008 when he won the DREAM 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix by knocking out Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. In his first fight returning to middleweight, Mousasi took on former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and was defeated by unanimous decision. He rebounded from the loss with a first-round finish of Mark Munoz in his next outing. He was then lined up in a rematch against Souza. He didn’t perform well and was submitted in the third round by the Brazilian.
Heading into the rematch with Souza, Mousasi felt mentally and physically burned out. He needed time off to recuperate and reassess his approach. On Saturday, a fresh Mousasi returns against Dan Henderson in the UFC on Fox 14 co-main event.
“Physically I’m in great shape and that gave me a lot of mental confidence. I’m healed up. I rested a lot, so I’m going into this fight fresh. I know I can push the pace for a long time and get the W,” the 29-year-old told MMAWeekly.com.
Three fights in 2014 against some of the best in the division proved too much for Mousasi. He wasn’t himself against Souza and believes he’s taken the time needed to come back better than ever.
“I think I was mentally and physically (burned out). I wasn’t in the shape that I should have been. I think mentally the most because I wasn’t in the fight from the beginning. I took my rest and I’m hungry for this fight. I want to fight Dan Henderson,” he said.
“I think last fight I was just too much defensive. I think I was too focused on stopping the takedown that I didn’t fight at all. I should just be aggressive and whatever happens; happens. I’m prepared for any scenario. It’s a different mentality heading into this fight and I think it will show,” added the Iranian-born Dutchman.
Mousasi believes he was overthinking the match-ups as well, and promises to be aggressive against Henderson in Stockholm on Saturday.
“I’m just going to go and fight him. It’s three rounds. I’m just going to go and leave it all out there. Anything can happen in a fight, but knowing that I’ve done everything right in training – whatever happens, happens. I know I’ve done everything right to get the win.”