With everything that’s been going on in the crazy world of MMA, tomorrow’s scrap between Gegard Mousasi and Thales Leites has been lost in the mix, big time. Now, does this mean it’s not a compelling fight on several levels? And that die hard fans shouldn’t be excited about it? No. No it does not.
So who’s going to take the fight? Which will co-headline UFC Fight Night 84 in London?
Tomorrow’s scrap isn’t really a must win for Mousasi, since he is ranked #9 at 185, but it’s a pivotal fight for the seasoned vet. Since arriving in the UFC, “The Dreamcatcher” has gone 4-3, and if he wants to remain in the contender conversation, he needs a win.
The bout also comes after Mousasi was taken out by Uriah Hall in highlight reel fashion this past September. Mousasi was winning the fight, in impressive fashion, but got caught by the vaunted striker early into round two. The defeat came at a time when it appeared Mousasi was hitting his UFC stride, following wins over Dan Henderson and Costas Philippou. So, another loss on Saturday would be a considerable setback.
Leites has somewhat quietly put together one more interesting runs the sport has seen in recent years. After all, we’re talking about a guy who exited the UFC in 2009–in less than ideal circumstances–who has since gone 11-2. Not only that, but since returning to the UFC, the ridiculously talented grappler has showcased some sharp striking skills.
The only man who has defeated the #10 ranked middleweight since 2010, is Michael Bisping. That was by split decision, and really, there wouldn’t have been widespread outcry if it had gone to Leites. So, if Leites takes out Mousasi tomorrow, a lot more people will start to pay attention to what he’s been doing.
Who You Got?
Mousasi has long been regarded as one of the more talented middleweights in the game for good reason–he has great stand-up, solid takedowns, and a pretty nasty ground game to boot. Leites, as noted above, has developed a solid striking game to compliment his grappling pedigree, which not too many folks are willing to engage.
At the end of the day, Mousasi likely has more ways to win this fight, and as a result, he should. The Dutch fighter’s takedown defense is respectable (56%), and if he can stay off his back, he should win the bout. This is likely why the betting lines have Mousasi as the favorite to win the fight.
But, is he -300 to -350 favorite to beat Leites? I’m not so sure about that.