The last time Gegard Mousasi stepped into the Strikeforce cage, he suffered only the third loss of his career in 34 attempts, and in the process lost the promotion’s 205-pound title.
Since then, however, he’s rebounded, winning Dream’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix and re-establishing himself as one of the best fighters in the division.
“I think I’ve recovered from the loss and am in the right place mentally again,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “After a loss it’s always difficult, but I think I bounced back from that loss and I can continue to try to win my fights.
“Every time, I’m trying to be a better fighter, to improve my training, try to get more technical, get mentally better and fight smarter.”
After defeating K-1 heavyweight champion Kyotaro at Dynamite on New Year’s Eve, Mousasi thought his return to MMA would come sooner, but delays ensued, adding further difficulty to his regimen.
“After a while, your motivation is gone,” he admitted. “Dieting and sleeping well all the time, getting up, and training gets difficult after doing it for a long time. I have a lot of motivation to win this fight, so it’s not a problem, but training was difficult, yes.”
Mousasi’s return will come part of Strikeforce’s April 9 fight card in San Diego, against Keith Jardine, who is stepping in for an injured Mike Kyle.
When Mousasi initially heard that Kyle was out of their fight, he responded, “I thought it sucked because this fight had been promised to me since February.
“I said I’d fight anybody, maybe even at heavyweight. They asked me who I would like to fight, but I told them it would be difficult to find somebody to challenge in one week, but they came up with Keith Jardine and we accepted it.”
Jardine not only allows Mousasi to keep a similar game plan to the one he had in place for Kyle, it also allows him to gauge himself against competition he may face down the line.
“He’s a good replacement because he’s mainly a stand-up fighter,” commented Mousasi. “It’s not like I have to face a pure wrestler. I have to fight a little bit different, but the change is not that big.
“He’s a tough opponent. He’s a former UFC fighter, and beat two former UFC champions, so it will be good to get a feeling of how good UFC fighters are.”
Speaking of UFC fighters, with the recent buyout of Strikeforce by the UFC’s parent company, Zuffa, Mousasi feels that the door is now open to possibly prove himself against the fighter who is at the top of the UFC’s 205-pound division.
“Right now Jon Jones is considered the best, and if I win my fights, maybe it could build up a good match against him,” stated Mousasi. “I think it would be such a great fight, so I would like to test myself against him.
“I need to win my fights first in Strikeforce, and then there’s a possibility to fight in the UFC or have the Strikeforce champion versus the UFC champion. But I’ve got to win my fights before thinking about that possibility.”
Ready to do what it takes to re-establish himself as one of the top light heavyweights in the world, it seems like only time stands between Mousasi and the peak of the 205-pound mountain.
“I would like to thank everyone for helping me in preparation for this fight, and Guus van der Meer of Powerplate for helping me out with my nutrition and my training schedule,” concluded Mousasi.
“I hope to give an exciting fight and not let anybody down.”