So much for "slow and steady".
Continuing the trend started with Woodley vs Saffiedine of pitting prospects against one another, the expected light-heavyweight throwdown between former champion Gegard Mousasi and the infamous Mike Kyle has reportedly been scrapped in favor of a battle between the "Armenian Assassin" and the best grappler alive.
Gracie, 4-0 in his MMA career (all submissions), is fresh off an authoritative rear-naked chokeout of South African Trevor Prangley; prior to this win, he defeated former UFC champion Kevin Randleman with the same technique.
Mousasi, on the other hand, has won 17 out of his 18 fights since an armbar loss to JMMA legend Akihiro Gono, including wins over Denis Kang, Bellator champion Hector Lombard, and a freakish upkick knockout of reigning Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. The only defeat he suffered in that span was a somewhat-controversial unanimous decision loss to "King Mo" Lawal, which echoed Rutten-Randleman in that Mousasi dealt far more damage from his back than Mo did from on top. His most recent victory was a surprising upset of reigning K-1 Heavyweight Champion Kyotaro in kickboxing, which saw the 25-year-old Armenian drop the Japanese sensation in the second round.
Despite his meagre MMA experience, Gracie is far from a joke; not only is he a part of the most legendary family in MMA, he is regarded as a member of grappling's Holy Trinity along with Marcelo Garcia and the aforementioned Jacare. It would not be a stretch to call him the greatest grappler alive, despite the fact that he hasn't even turned 30 yet.
While I don't expect Roger to wind up being Rolles "Beached Whale" Gracie Mk. II, is this too much, too soon?
We'll find out in April.