Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
What has Gegard Mousasi puzzled? The fact that despite having a very impressive resume, one loss has changed people's entire views about him while other fighters, who have been beaten badly, still get more praise than him.
That's how many fights Gegard Mousasi has lost in the last six years. Yet, to some, according to the Armenian, he's a "bad" and "overrated" mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.
Forget the fact he won 15 straight fights before running into Muhammed Lawal at Strikeforce: "Nashville" back in 2010, losing a five round title fight via decision. Forget the fact he owns a 32-3-2 MMA record, winning 19 of his last 21 contests. Forget the fact he defeated the likes of Melvin Manhoef, Ronaldo Souza, Mark Hunt and Renato Sobral in consecutive bouts, rather decisively ... and all in the very first round. You can also forget the fact he's competed and won titles in the 185 and 205-pound divisions.
And, you can throw in a DREAM "Super Hulk" tournament trophy in there, too.
You can forget all those previous accomplishments because, apparently, what seems to stick out to many is the fact that he lost his light heavyweight title one fateful night in Tennessee to a much more accomplished wrestler. That lone loss, it seems, trumps any of his previous accomplishments for most fans.
Something that doesn't sit too well with "The Dreamcatcher."
According to the "underestimated" Mousasi, he's witnessed other fighters "lose very badly," yet receive much higher praise than him. But, after some much-needed experience, he now understands "how things work."
His words to MMA Fighting:
"Maybe [because I was overseas]. I don't know. I see some fighters lose very badly, but still they get more praise or they're not overrated. They're just good fighters in a lot of people's eyes. But I feel like one loss with King Mo, it made me a very bad fighter somehow. When I first fought in the U.S., there was a lot of attention. And then after that loss, there wasn't actually that much interest. I see now, it's experience. I get [more] mature. I understand now things how work. I felt I accomplished my goals, I won in DREAM. I got the belt in Strikeforce.You're a top contender, and [suddenly] you are just a fighter, basically fighting just to fight. I understand how things go. It can go very fast. It comes fast and it goes fast. I see a lot of fighters getting knocked out, but they still, they praise them a lot more than me. I haven't been beaten badly in any fight. I just lost one fight in, I don't know how many fights. I think people underestimate me. And I feel like now, with the good training I have, why shouldn't I be able to fight these UFC fighters?"
For Gegard, it's now or never, as he hopes an impressive performance coupled with a victory over Mike Kyle earns him an invite to the world's premiere MMA organization:
"This is the time. If I don't do it now, maybe I won't get a second chance. I feel like everything is falling into its place."
As Mousasi continues his ascent back to the top of the rankings, he hopes to keeps his current four-fight win streak alive and extend it to five over the always-game Kyle and maybe, just maybe, he can shed the "overrated" label and get back some of the respect he feels he's unfairly lost.
Perhaps it was his lackluster performance against Keith Jardine in 2011 that resulted in draw that quickly changed spectator's opinions of him, as well.
What's your take?