Gegard Mousasi will fight in his third main event in a row when he takes on Mark Munoz in the UFC Fight Night 41 headliner in Berlin on Saturday. While he’s headlined UFC fight cards, the former Strikeforce and DREAM champion has been “the other guy” each time.
“I’m thankful to the UFC for giving me the opportunity to fight in these main events. But I have to say it has a lot to do with my opponents. I had Alexander Gustafsson in Sweden, Lyoto Machida in Brazil. Mark Munoz was scheduled to be in the Philippines. But that fell though, so it became Germany. So it also depends on the opponent,” Mousasi recently told MMAWeekly.com.
The 28-year-old returned to the middleweight division in his last outing for the first time since 2008 to take on Machida. He lost via unanimous decision, but feels he’s better prepared to make the weight cut this time around.
“I think this time it will be much easier because last time I came from an injury. I had to lose a lot of weight. This time I had to lose some weight, but it wasn’t that much. So it’s much better this time than the last time,” he said.
Along with an easier weight cut, Mousasi only has to travel an hour and a half from his home in the Netherlands to Germany for the fight.
“It’s good to travel one hour, a one-hour drive for me. So of course it’s going to be easier for me. I’ve never had a problem with traveling because I’ve always had to do that. But I think it’s going to favor me a little bit this time,” he said.
Mousasi has gone the distance in five-round rights twice in his career. Munoz as been scheduled in five-round fights, but hasn’t gone more than three rounds in his career. Although he has the five-round experience, Mousasi doesn’t think it will be a factor on Saturday.
“Mark Munoz has conditioned to go five rounds. So it’s not going to be any issue. That’s not going to be a problem. I’m sure he can go five rounds. It’s not going to be an issue for him. He’s a good wrestler. And I think conditioning is one of his strengths,” said Mousasi.
Both Mousasi and Munoz are coming off of loses. And the last thing Mousasi wants to do is lose back-to-back fights.
“He’s a wrestler. He’s a good ground and pounder. He’s a tough competitor. It’s a tough opponent. And we’re both in a difficult situation where we both are coming from a loss. I think it’s going to be an important fight for both of us,” he said.
“No one wants to have two loses in a row. Especially when you’re in the UFC because if you have three loses in a row you could be kicked out. I don’t think anyone wants to be in a position of two loses in a row. Of course it’s a little bit of pressure, but I’m just thinking of the fight,” added the 28-year-old fighter.
Mousasi is primarily a striker. Munoz comes from a wrestling background. It’s a classic stylistic match-up of conflicting styles. And Mousasi realizes that the fight will likely go to the ground at some point.
“I’ve worked a lot on my stand-up and takedown defense against the cage and wrestled a lot. Even if he takes me down the fight doesn’t stop there. It’s a fight. I’m going to get right back up, or I’m going to fight on the ground. I’m going in with the mentality that if he takes me down I’m going to get right back up. I’m not going to try to fight on my back,” he said. “I’ve always been able to defend myself very well, even on the ground. But you’re not going to win fighting from your back. I don’t want to be in that position.
“I think eventually the fight will end up on the ground. But I’m going to make it stand up as much as possible,” added Mousasi. “I imagine it going three rounds and then me winning. I don’t know how, but I think it will go three rounds. I think within two or three rounds I will be able to do the job. I’m going to go for the finish. I’m going to try at least.”