Gegard Mousasi is alive and well.
After going 1-1 in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) dating back to April 2013, Gegard Mousasi put his fellow middleweight counterparts on watch after submitting Mark Munoz yesterday (Sat., May 31, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 41: "Munoz vs. Mousasi."
The Armenian remained calm in the opening sequences, staying wary of Munoz's strengths and then capitalized on his mistakes. Mousasi then dominated "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" on the mat, transitioning well with submissions until locking in the rear-naked choke and forcing the tap from his adversary (highlights here).
Not only is Mousasi the first combatant to submit Munoz, he also proved the naysayers wrong about his recent form, gaining some footing in the stacked 185-pound division. His run from 2006 to 2009 was mesmerizing, winning fights against Mark Hunt, Hector Lombard and Ronaldo Souza, and he also captured the DREAM middleweight championship and the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.
Since the weight class isn't short of title aspirants at the moment, it would make sense for the DREAM 2008 middleweight grand prix winner to be matched up against someone in similar standing.
That includes quite a few dudes.
As it stands, you've got three combatants who are all coming off big victories, but don't have any fights planned right now. Ironically, two of those men were mentioned in Mousasi's post-fight interview with Dan Hardy.
Tim Kennedy defeated Michael Bisping in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale back in April, maintaining his perfect record of 3-0 inside the Octagon. Kennedy is a former Strikeforce middleweight title challenger, and different weight classes nullified a meeting between him and Mousasi in the now-defunct promotion.
The other combatant mentioned by Mousasi was Luke Rockhold, who not only has a victory over Kennedy in Strikeforce, but is also on a two-fight winning streak since losing to Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 8 last year. The Californian stopped Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch in his last two bouts, proving he's one of the division's finest fighters.
A rematch between Rockhold and Kennedy wouldn't be a bad idea; however, Mousasi could play spoiler and nobody would really mind. Since the Armenian hasn't fought either competitor in the past, it provides us with a fresh match up and arguably, a more compelling one.
Both Rockhold and Kennedy could serve as stiff tests for the main event winner, since both possess a good striking game, along with a solid ground game with completely different styles.
The United States army veteran smothers opponents once he's in top position, being incredibly difficult to shake off (ask Michael Bisping). Rockhold, on the other hand, usually looks for submissions once he's brought someone to the ground, though he's definitely the more dangerous of the two when it comes to his stand up.
Like we mentioned before, Mousasi does have a win over "Jacare," who's disappeared since having popcorn in his elbow. It's possible the organization is waiting for the best suitable option for the Brazilian, who's on an impressive six-fight winning streak, including three UFC victories.
Many pundits will remember when "The Dreamcatcher" knocked Souza out at DREAM 6 to win middleweight grand prix honors in just over two minutes.
It's been almost six years since that's happened, so a rematch between both middleweights could be quite different. Souza is a demon on the mat, and he'll want to avenge his up-kick knockout loss. It's almost as if you have to throw that fight out of the window if these two face each other again, even if Mousasi destroyed him in such a brutal way.
Keep in mind the ground battle was rather interesting, with "Jacare" taking Mousasi down, but had difficulty controlling him.
There's also C.B. Dollaway, Costas Philippou, and Yoel Romero, who are all on winning streaks, yet those dudes seem to be in a class below "The Armenian Assassin" and his company, so it makes sense for either of those guys to face one another.
Since Chris Weidman holds the throne at the moment, anticipating Lyoto Machida at UFC 175, and with Vitor Belfort busy against Chael Sonnen on the same card, these three options seem like the ones that make the most sense. It's safe to say Rockhold, Kennedy or Souza will be summoned to face the Armenian.
That said, who gets matched up, and who's left out in the cold?
For extensive coverage of UFC Fight Night 41: "Munoz vs. Mousasi," including video highlights, post-fight recaps and more, click here.