Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi went to war on the main card of UFC Fight Night 41 yesterday (Sat., May 31, 2014) from O2 World in Berlin, Germany.
Both fighters had lost their most recent bout to current UFC middleweight title contender Lyoto Machida. Mousasi dropped a five round decision to "Dragon" at UFC Fight Night 36, while Munoz was brutally knocked out with a first round head kick at UFC Fight Night 30.
With the 185-pound division quickly becoming one of the most talented arenas in all of mixed martial arts (MMA), the pressure was on both fighters to put forth a solid performance in Berlin. In the end, it was "Dreamcatcher" who scored his biggest Octagon victory to date, surprising Munoz with his excellent all-around skills.
The fight began with Munoz shooting in. Mousasi landed some shots in the scramble, to which Munoz responded with a big double leg slam that Mousasi immediately recovered from.
Munoz landed two hooks but Mousasi was pushing the action. "Dreamcatcher" controlled the action in the clinch for a brief moment and sprawled another takedown to look for a front choke that didn't last. From there, he quickly transitioned to land on top in side control.
Munoz sought a single leg but absorbed some huge elbows, following with a tight face crank. That he slipped out of. Mousasi was doing damage, reversing a takedown beautifully to get the mount and then move to the back to lock on a crushing rear naked choke that forced a bloodied Munoz to tap.
Mousasi surprised with his excellent takedown defense and reversals, constantly using his transitions to shake off Munoz' vaunted wrestling with seeming ease. His striking has always world-class, but Mousasi's mat skills were on glaring display in Berlin.
The win should vaunt him into the Top 10 and earn him a solid fight his next time out; he called for Luke Rockhold or Tim Kennedy in his post-fight interview.
He may or may not get a fight that big. If he doesn't, a fight with C.B. Dollaway, who picked up a big victory over Francis Carmont in the UFC Fight Night 41 co-main event, would also be an excellent match-up, as would one with No. 12-ranked Yoel Romero.
Munoz suffered another disappointing setback, his third stoppage loss in his last four fights. With his only win in that span being a UFC 162 decision victory over Tim Boetsch, a fighter who has an even worse track record as of late, relevancy in the crowded UFC middleweight division is quickly running out for the 36-year-old Munoz.
He'll probably never contend for the title, so there's not much left to prove in the Octagon. He couldn't get much working in terms of offense today, and that's been a very unfortunate recurring trend for him the last two years. The former NCAA Division I wrestling champion was dominated in his strong suit, so that‘s not a good sign.
Perhaps it's time for Munoz to become one of the best coaches in MMA at his respected Reign Training Center. If not now, then it most likely will be after one more loss. He's had a solid career but the game may be beginning to pass him by at this point.
Gegard Mousasi caught Mark Munoz's dream of returning to the win column with a surprisingly dominant performance at UFC Fight Night 41. What's up next for the talented former Strikeforce champion?