Strikeforce’s Gegard Mousasi Tapping into Potential for Jan. 12

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Once thought by most to be one of the best light heavyweights in MMA, Gegard Mousasi looks to prove he’s still one of the best. (Photo by Esther Lin/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi was once widely considered one of the top light heavyweight MMA fighters on the planet. Many, though, have changed their minds about that.

According to Mousasi, people are free to have their own opinion on the matter, but what he sees in himself is far from a guy that can’t compete with the best. On the contrary, the Netherlands resident said he has all the potential in the world. His problem is he just hasn’t tapped into it the way he should.

With his new drive, he’s looking to prove doubters wrong.

“I feel like I have a lot of potential, but I haven’t been using it properly,” Mousasi told GRACIEMAG.com. “With that, I want to show my full potential. I can beat big names. That’s something I want to do — to prove people wrong. I think they underestimate me.”

The fighter pointed to his loss to Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal as the turning point in his career where spectators and supporters became disinterested naysayers. The bout was Mousasi’s first Strikeforce title defense, and the fighter was constantly put on his back by the challenger. The bout was scored unanimously for Lawal, and Mousasi lost his belt.

Mousasi (right) points to his loss to “King Mo” Lawal (left) as the one where people started doubting him. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

It’s instances like this, Mousasi said, that people cling onto. They forget any accomplishments, only remembering what went wrong.

But it’s those same people that will want to match Mousasi up with the top contenders if he beats a name that holds any weight.

“One poor performance has changed peoples’ opinions,” he said, reflecting on the Lawal loss. “People always remember the bad things. I know if I beat one big name, everyone’s going to say they want to see another big match-up.”

Mousasi’s next outing is against Mike Kyle at the final Strikeforce event, which is scheduled for this weekend. Kyle is a strong, hard-hitting opponent, Mousasi said, but he’s confident he can get the job against the American fighter.

Once the Kyle fight is done, much of the attention will be on Mousasi’s likely transition to the UFC — a place where many wonder if Mousasi can perform well.

The potential to finally fight in the premier MMA organization is motivation on its own, he said. And for a fighter that’s had his motivation questioned in the past, the chance to fight in the UFC will be his ultimate proving ground.

“I think the difference now is the UFC is the biggest stage and people are always wondering how I would do against the big, famous names,” he explained. “I’d like to see myself fighting those big names on the highest stage. That’s motivation by itself.

“This fight is more motivating, especially since the door to the UFC is so close.”

Fights with high-profile light heavyweights has Mousasi more excited to compete than ever. Before, a fight was just another fight, he explained, and they lacked any special meaning. They were simply routine, he said.

But after a year of recovering from injury, and the door to the UFC just over the horizon, a fire is lit under the fighter. First comes Kyle, but then opportunities to face the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Lyoto Machida, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Jon Jones will soon follow, he hopes.

Jan. 12’s Strikeforce event is a fresh start for Mousasi. He admitted to the lack of motivation to train in the past, but all the chances to prove his doubters wrong are just around the corner, and he’ll start by trying to turn opinions with Kyle on Saturday.

“I’m doing everything right, especially with the UFC so close,” he said. “I’m really excited for that.”

For more UFC and MMA coverage,
visit GRACIEMAG.com’s Choke MMA section

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