November 09, 2009

After his second-round TKO over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou on Saturday, no one is wondering if Gegard Mousasi is for real. The question has now turned into: How good can Mousasi be?

With a one-minute destruction of Renato "Babalu" Sobral, and his less flashy but still effective beating on Sokoudjou, Mousasi has established himself as a dominant force in Strikeforce's light heavyweight division. Looking at the current slate of challengers, it's hard to imagine anyone stepping up to dethrone the current champion.

His detractors will say Mousasi wasn't aggressive enough against Sokoudjou and could have ended the fight earlier. Those critics should be reminded that current UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida, took longer to finish off Sokoudjou in their fight than Mousasi did. Exciting finishes don't make great fighters; winning the fight makes great fighters.

A fighter must display controlled aggression in order to sustain a long, successful career. One overly eager move could turn the tide in favor of the other fighter. Mousasi shows enough patience in the cage that allows him to pounce when the other fighter is on his last legs and not a moment before.

There is only so much Mousasi can do in Strikeforce to add to his legacy. Before long, most will be pushing for his move to the UFC. It would be significant increase in the talent he would face, but how much success would he find in one of the deepest divisions in the sport?

Looking at the current rankings in the light heavyweight division shows a couple things. Most notably, Anderson Silva is not on the list. Another is the amount of former champions in the top 10, which speaks to just how open the division has become.

Based on his age, recent successes and fighting style, there is no reason to think Mousasi couldn't compete with the fighters at the very top of the division.

Mousasi would likely be able to overwhelm Rich Franklin and Tito Ortiz with his quick strike ability. He could do the same with Randy Couture, but he'd also have to fight a very smart, calculated fight against the former champion.

Forrest Griffin could give Mousasi trouble because of his size; however Griffin has been made to look silly by fighters that are much quicker than him. Mousasi would have a decided advantage with his quickness.

Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans would provide an interesting challenge for Mousasi. Both are quick enough to offset an advantage he may have. Each fighter was also stopped by current champion, Machida. Mousasi could take the same approach the champion did with both: a counter-punching mentality with the ability to finish the fight with one big shot.

Mousasi's judo background may be another factor that benefits him, especially against a fighter like Evans. He could use any number of judo throws to get Evans off his feet and employ a very dangerous ground-and-pound.

That leaves the current champion and the fighter that many feel should be champion, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. There is little question that these two are at a different level compared to all the other fighters in the division.

While Mousasi may still not be able to beat either fighter, he would be great competition for each. He possesses the toughness, quickness and power that would make each fighter push themselves to the absolute limit.

Of course, very few people would be surprised if Mousasi beat either the champion or the number one contender. He is already talented enough to beat the very best in the world and very few would call it an upset.

Only 24, Mousasi has already established himself as one of the great fighters in the world. He has enough time to one day be called the very best.

For that to happen, however, he needs to head to the UFC and fight the best fighters in the world on the biggest stage.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)