Strikeforce’s demise and the subsequent incorporation of such stars as Gilbert Melendez, Daniel Cormier and Gegard Mousasi and others into the UFC ranks has shaken up the line of aces in title contention.
One of the divisions most replenished by the influx of new fighters is the light-heavyweight one. Gegard Mousasi, 27, a former champion of his now-defunct promotion of origin, joins the UFC fold with a hankering for a shot at the title, but the path to the belt isn’t quite clear for the Armenian tapout artist.
Divisional kingpin Jon Jones has an April title defense scheduled against Chael Sonnen, who qualified for the encounter by coaching opposite the champion on the seventeenth season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Also mentioned as top contenders, Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson will face off in February at UFC 157 for a chance to take a stab at the belt.
So, Mousasi’s only valid alternative was to face off with Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson. The Swede, whose last outing was a win over Maurício Shogun at UFC on Fox 5, is one of the most highly touted fighters in the weight class, and the title-hungry Mousasi was overjoyed with the choice of opponent for when he takes to the octagon for the first time, at UFC Sweden next April.
“I wanted to face a top opponent,” Mousasi recently told MMAWeekly.com. 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.”
Gustafsson, who has beaten the likes of Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko and Thiago Silva, said that Mousasi will be the most dangerous opponent he has faced in his career.
“Gegard is by far the most dangerous opponent I’ll have faced,” Alexander says in a video interview on MMAViking.com. “He’s young and hungry and has a lot of experience. It will be an interesting fight. But I’m going to win this fight, no doubt.”
Mousasi and Gustafsson will lock horns on April 6 at UFC on Fuel TV 9 in Sweden. The event, for which the rest of the card has not yet been announced, will mark Gegard’s UFC debut.
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