When former DREAM and Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi made his UFC debut as a light heavyweight on April 6, 2013, he had his eyes focused on a UFC title.
He’s achieved championships in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions in other organizations. He’ll return to the 185-pound weight class when he faces former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36 on Feb. 15. His decision to move back to middleweight had everything to do with the landscape of the division and the path to a title shot.
“I think it will be easier to get a title shot, and I think that I will perform better at this place, but just the road to the title. I will be successful more at middleweight than at light heavyweight,” Mousasi told MMAWeekly.com about his motivation to return to the 185-pound division.
“Vitor Belfort is getting the next shot. Anderson Silva is injured. The few other names that come to mind that could get a title shot is Jacare (Ronaldo Souza),” added Mousasi. “Other than that, there’s no next number one guy.”
While he admitted that he’s willing to compete as a light heavyweight with the right opportunity, the middleweight division is his new home.
“I will not go up and down. I want to stay in one division and go for the title,” he said.
The path of least resistance to a UFC title fight may have been his primary reason for changing divisions, but the 28-year-old also feels that middleweight is where he competes the best.
“At middleweight, I will be giving no advantages as far as size-wise and weight differences,” said Mousasi. “I think at middleweight I’ll be giving less advantage, so that’s the whole point.”
A UFC title would complete the resume of “The Armenian Assassin,” and he plans to add the accolade of UFC titleholder sooner rather than later. UFC president Dana White recently stated that if Machida wins, he’ll likely be next in line. A win over Machida would certainly put Mousasi on a short list of contenders.
“I’ve got titles from Japan and from Strikeforce. I think to finish it off with a UFC belt, that would be a huge achievement. It’s definitely a goal of mine to get the title,” he said.