Gegard Mousasi, unlike his original UFC on Fuel TV 9 main event dance partner, Alexander Gustafsson, kept his mouth shut prior to stepping foot inside the Octagon for the first time ever last night (Sat., April 6, 2013) at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
That's because he was dealing with a serious knee injury that will now require surgery repair. And had "Dream Catcher" shared the diagnosis with the Swedish MMA Federation -- the same way in which "The Mauler" reported his "three-stitch glitch" -- he, too, may have been ruled out of the 205-pound contest.
"Mousasi had knee problems all through his camp," White said. "He checked with his doctor [who told him] that he could make it through this fight, but would then have to get surgery after."
Amazingly, Mousasi made the trip to Sweden even though he had no idea who his replacement opponent would be with literally days until fight night. Ilir Latifi, Gustafsson's training partner, ultimately answered the call, but the botched announcement came after a whirlwind, and frustrating, April Fools Day-inspired few days for Mousasi.
Regardless of the inconvenience, unprofessional circumstances, opponent switch and, as we now learn injury, Mousasi agreed to compete even though he most likely had every reason not to.
"He wants to fight because he's coming here to fight the No. 3-ranked Light Heavyweight in the world -- he doesn't want to give up the opportunity, he wants to fight," White explained. "He shows up here to fight, and it gets [canceled] on a cut, which we won't get into, having trained for a tall striker. Then he gets a short, strong southpaw wrestler and still accepts the fight.... Much respect."
Mousasi -- who was also apparently ill one week before the Light Heavyweight showdown -- went on to defeat Latifi via unanimous decision (watch video highlights here). He would later describe it as a "smart" and "low-risk" gameplan that was designed for one thing and on thing only: Winning.
It was ultimately his decision, which turned out to be a good one all things considered, raking in a six-figure payday, registering his first-ever UFC win and sucking it up despite being less than 100 percent. In fact, Mousasi -- who was tight-lipped about the extent of the injury at the press conference -- hinted that "95 percent" of other fighters probably would have withdrawn.
Right, wrong or otherwise, If nothing else, at least it was his decision and his decision alone.
"Gegard knew his knee injured before the fight," White said. "Thank God he didn’t see the doctors here. I don’t want to smash the commission, but they’re very inexperienced. This isn’t Las Vegas or New Jersey or California where lots of fights happen. They did a great job the first time we came here, so hopefully they’ll get back on the wagon."
Different strokes for different MMA folks.