Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi will attempt to make his case for a middleweight title shot when he faces ex-205-pound kingpin Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36, which airs on FOX Sports 1 from Arena Jaragua in Santa Catarina, Brazil, on Feb. 15, 2014.
But first, he has to figure out how to combat "The Dragon's" elusive style.
That's why "The Dreamcatcher" enlisted the services of his combat sports compadre Jaouad Ikan, who not only competed against Machida in karate, but also helped Fedor Emelianenko train for his final mixed martial arts (MMA) fight against Pedro Rizzo back in 2012.
Mousasi talks to Karyn Bryant:
"I trained with Jaouad Ikan. That's my friend who I always trained with, but he's a karate guy. He even fought Machida twice, I think, in karate. He does Machida exactly the same. I would say even better, karate-wise. I learned a lot from him. I at least know what to expect in the fight."
Mousasi (34-3-2) insists it's not his punches that will win him the fight, but rather his intelligence, as both fighters will be looking to capitalize on whoever makes the first mistake. While Machida is pretty much guaranteed a shot at the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort (says this guy), "The Dreamcatcher" may need another impressive win before he earns a crack at the crown.
With Anderson Silva out of the picture for the foreseeable future, there are plenty of intriguing options for Mousasi, including potential fights against Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and even Ronaldo Souza, depending on how they fare in their upcoming fights.
Lots of pieces to this puzzle ... but it all starts with a win in Brazil.