Mousasi (34-3-2) will be returning to the middleweight division for the first time since 2008. The last time he fought at 185 pounds, he won the DREAM 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix and was crowned the inaugural DREAM middleweight champion.
His decision to return to the weight class was motivated by the landscape of the division and his belief that the path to a title shot is shorter in the middleweight division than at light heavyweight.
UFC president Dana White recently indicated that the winner of the fight is a “no brainer” for a middleweight title shot, but still wants to see the fight before issuing any guarantees. Mousasi, for his part, is approaching the fight with the mindset that he’ll receive the opportunity if he wins.
“For me, it’s the biggest fight for me. Biggest as in the opportunity that I’m going to get if I win this fight,” Mousasi told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s a very important fight for me. I’m very excited for this fight. It’s a must win for me.”
Machida often frustrates his opponents with his low output style that relies on footwork, speed, and accuracy. Mousasi is well aware of what the Brazilian brings to the table and is confident that he’s prepared physically and mentally.
“He’s a difficult fighter to fight. He has holes in his game. He makes his own mistakes, but he’s a difficult fighter to fight,” said Mousasi about his opponent. “He’s a very smart fighter. He don’t do a lot. You have to fight smart if you want to win against him.
“I’m in shape. Mentally I’m strong, and I think that’s the most important part in this fight,” added the 28-year-old. “Physically I’m ready, but I think mentally I’m at my best.”