UFC middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi has come to grips with the realization the cloudy title picture in the division may keep him from fighting for the belt anytime soon.
That gives him fewer things to worry about.
The Iranian-born star will put his four-fight winning streak on the line against former champ Chris Weidman at UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday. The bout is part of a pay-per-view card that will be headlined by a light heavyweight title rematch between Anthony Johnson and champion Daniel Cormier.
While the winner will be in a great position in the division, Mousasi acknowledged a shot at the title probably isn’t in the cards.
Michael Bisping will defend the belt against returning superstar Georges St. Pierre, though no date has been set for that fight. The announcement of that bout was a blow to top contender Yoel Romero, who was also passed over for a title shot against Bisping last year when Bisping instead defended the belt against Dan Henderson.
Mousasi knows even a win over a former champ on Saturday won’t leapfrog him past Romero.
“Yoel Romero is next, he’s the No. 1 contender,” Mousasi said on a conference call. “I’m not focused on the title right now. I’m just focused on Weidman, to get the win. That’s all.”
That’s a daunting enough task, though Mousasi at least believes he has Weidman figured out.
“I know how Chris Weidman’s going to fight,” Mousasi said. “He’s going to come forward, he’s going to try to put the pressure on me, work on the cardio, do some wrestling, do some striking. But at the end of the day I’m prepared, I know exactly what he’s going to do, so I’m more than prepared. I got my skills, and I’m going to show it (April 8). I’m very confident, that’s all I can say.”
While the words are hardly inflammatory, there was a time in his career they would have really stood out coming from the soft-spoken resident of the Netherlands.
Mousasi, 31, has grown far more outspoken over the last year, however.
“I’m just speaking my mind,” he said. “I’m not acting. I’m not an actor. Some guys, they’re good at trash talking. They put on an act like WWE. But at the end of the day I’m just me, I’m just speaking my mind. I’m coming to fight.”
Mousasi, who has won six of his last seven fights, says it has become clear to him that while winning is important to get where he wants to be, it’s not always enough.
I need to get this win. That’s the most important and I’m ready,” he said. “I’m more than ready and after that it’s just a popularity contest. Let’s be honest, Yoel Romero is next but he’s not getting his shot simply because he doesn’t speak English and he’s Cuban. Those things matter. At the end of the day I need to win, so I need to do my job first and then we’ll see how it goes.”
UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov expressed sympathy for fans upset that his fight against Tony Ferguson was canceled last month less than 36 hours before UFC 209 in Las Vegas when he was hospitalized while cutting weight.
“You know I don’t remember a lot of things, to be honest,” Nurmagomedov told RT Sport at the opening of his new gym in Moscow. “(It was the night before the weigh-ins) and I am going to a hospital, I feel bad. I know that a lot of fans are upset with me about this and I (understand). Because this is one of the biggest fights in Russian MMA. For me, I can make history but I am going to the hospital.”
Nurmagomedov, who says the issues he encountered were “100 percent my fault,” hopes to return to action in September. He acknowledged the kind words Ferguson had for him after he fell ill, but said he still hopes the fight is booked for a fourth time.
Both fighters had previously pulled out of scheduled bouts against the other with injuries.
“This is my dream fight – a fight with Tony Ferguson,” Nurmagomedov said. “I know I pulled out, but he pulled out one time, too. But nobody talked when he pulled out. When I pull out – everybody talks about this. But it’s ok. (God willing) I will come back and we’ll see what happens.”
Good accepts sanction
UFC welterweight Lyman Good has accepted a six-month sanction from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for a violation of the UFC’s anti-doping policy. USADA announced the penalty, which is retroactive to Oct. 24, on Monday.
Following the announcement of a positive test in October, which resulted in Good being pulled off the UFC 205 card at Madison Square Garden in New York, Good provided USADA with information about the supplements he was taking.
An investigation revealed the prohibited substance 1-androstenedione was present in one of the supplements, but not listed on the label. Good is eligible to return later this month.
“Athletes are reminded that even seemingly low-risk dietary supplements may contain prohibited substances, which may not be listed on the Supplement Facts label,” a statement from USADA read. “Thus USADA encourages athletes through Supplement 411 to challenge the reasons for using supplements and make themselves aware of how to reduce their risks of a positive anti-doping test and/or an adverse health event.
Contact Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.
Saturday: UFC 210 (FS1/PPV), Buffalo, New York
Saturday: Bellator 176 (Spike), Turin, Italy
April 14: Bellator 177 (Spike), Budapest, Hungary
April 15: UFC on Fox 24 (FS1/Fox), Kansas City, Missouri
April 22: UFC Fight Night 108 (FS2/FS1), Nashville, Tennessee