The moment Gegard Mousasi signed his contract with the UFC he wanted to make one thing crystal clear – he’s working towards a title shot and wants the biggest fights possible to get there.
The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion comes to the promotion with a lot of hype behind him as one of the top prospects at 205lbs, and he’s not shying away from facing the best of the best to prove he belongs there.
For his first fight in the UFC, Mousasi will face current top contender Alexander Gustafsson in his home country of Sweden in April, and this is exactly the kind of challenge he wanted.
“I wanted to face a top opponent. He’s the No. 1 contender so fighting him would get me in line for a title shot. That’s the guy I want to fight,” Mousasi told MMAWeekly.com on Sunday.
“It was him, (Lyoto) Machida or Shogun (Rua), and I mentioned them because I felt those were the names that fans would want to see, and they’re top contenders and obviously (Gustafsson) beat Shogun so he’s the number one, so I feel great fighting for this spot.”
The UFC hasn’t officially dubbed the fight as a No. 1 contender’s bout, but Mousasi knows that Gustafsson’s resume certainly reads like a fighter ready to compete for the belt. Add in Mousasi’s current win streak and he believes this has the makings of finding out who will next challenge champion Jon Jones in the Octagon.
“Gustafsson, he’s on a six fight winning streak, it’s hard to deny him a title shot. It’s definitely for number one contender’s spot, that’s the way I feel,” said Mousasi.
Mousasi also knows the fans have a voice with UFC President Dana White, and when they talk he listens. As he prepares for his showdown with Gustafsson in April, Mousasi does so with the knowledge that a flawless performance beating the Swede could be just the momentum he needs to have everyone screaming for a title shot in his second fight in the UFC.
“If I go there and I perform well it’s much easier to get the fans all behind me. It’s all about performance, and I believe once that’s happened and then we can go to the next step,” Mousasi stated.
2013 already kicked off on the right foot for Mousasi when he submitted Mike Kyle in the final Strikeforce show ever, and now he wants to build on that when he debuts in the UFC. Mousasi is a goal-oriented person so the first mission is to beat Alexander Gustafsson in April.
Mission 2.0 will be to wrap the UFC light heavyweight title around his waist by year’s end.
“I’m concentrating 100-percent and from that hopefully I will have that belt around my waist. That’s a big motivation, it’s within reach and it’s a possibility. That’s already giving me a lot of hope and that’s what I’m going for this year. We had a good start but now we are going for the big deal,” said Mousasi.
“I want a fight so I can get a title shot. I don’t want to build anything up, or get build up fights or whatever. We’re going for the top and I’m happy that they are giving me the opportunity.”