Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading south of the equator for its upcoming UFC Fight Night 36 event (fight card), headlined by a middleweight match-up pitting Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi on FOX Sports 1 at Arena Jaragua in Santa Catarina, Brazil, on Feb. 15, 2014.
The winner is expected to be at the top of a very short list of 185-pound title contenders.
That's why taming "The Dragon" is so important to "The Dreamcatcher," though Mousasi, by his own admission, doesn't believe that fighting the former light heavyweight kingpin will be his toughest challenge to date, based on his international experience.
From his conversation with Paula Sack:
"He's not the biggest [challenge of my career]. I've had many fights, against dangerous strikers, heavier opponents. I fought K-1, different divisions. It's one of the most important fights for me. I look forward to the fight. He has his gaps. Stand-up, he makes mistakes. I think it's gonna be that fight that whoever makes a mistake is gonna pay for it. I can get a title shot after this fight, maybe. I like Lyoto, he's a good guy. But we're gonna fight and see who is the better fighter."
Mousasi holds wins over Hector Lombard, Mark Hunt, Melvin Manhoef and Ronaldo Souza, just to name a few.
The 185-pound field was busted wide open (no pun intended) when a leg injury to Anderson Silva bounced him from the title scene for the foreseeable future. While Vitor Belfort challenges Chris Weidman for the division strap -- possibly as early as May -- a few select others will compete for their spot in line.
Including "Jacare" Souza, Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping, among others.
Where Mousasi (34-3-2) fits into that equation remains to be seen, but his performance against Machida may have a hand in determining just how close he is to the title.
In either direction.