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Forty-five fights in, Mousasi feels like he's in his fighting prime



With 45 pro mixed martial arts fights already under his belt, it’s impossible to believe that Gegard Mousasi is still only 30 years old.

“I’ve had a lot of fights,” he laughs. “I prefer to fight this year three or four times, and then maybe go slow down a little bit.”

Slowing down isn’t very likely for the middleweight contender, even though he has had gloves and a mouthpiece as tools of his trade for his entire adult life.

“This is the only thing I know, there’s not much else that I can do. There’s not a lot of choices.”

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It helps when you’re one of the best in the world at what you do though, and despite all the fights that he’s already logged, we may not have seen his best yet.

“I feel like I’m in my prime now,” Mousasi said. “After the Jacare fight I was in good shape, even in my last fight, even though I lost. I feel that physically, I’m stronger than ever, so I’m very confident going into this fight.”

“This” fight is a Saturday co-main event against fellow 185-pound standout Thales Leites, and after his loss to Souza in September of 2014, it’s safe to say that Mousasi’s belief that he’s in his prime is spot on.

Just look at the year he had in 2015, where he had two solid wins and a bad 25 seconds against Uriah Hall. He chuckles at that description, but believes it as well, as his quest to defeat Hall in September after wins over Dan Henderson and Costas Philippou was on its way to a successful conclusion following a dominant first round in Japan. But early in the second round, Hall pulled off a spinning back kick that stunned Mousasi. A follow up barrage of strikes ended the bout and put his winning streak to rest.

“It’s a fight, anything can happen,” Mousasi said of just the sixth loss of his 45-fight career. “But it sucks to accept that loss. Sometimes you lose and you just lost. That fight, that was a big loss, and especially the first time I lost that way. But I know what I’m capable of and what I see in training, and it can happen to anybody. If you fight long enough, one time you will see a kick or a punch that you’ve never seen, and someone will eventually lose even if they’re much better. I don’t think about that fight a lot because it can happen to anybody. But I know I was dominating, so it gave me confidence that if that thing didn’t happen I would have probably won. But it’s a fight, so you never know. I’ve had losses before and I came back, so it’s nothing different.”

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Mousasi is not a rearview mirror kind of guy. What matters is now, not yesterday. And even with all his past success, none of that matters on Saturday against Leites, a fellow old school battler who is looking to bounce back from a recent loss, his against Michael Bisping.

“He’s a tough guy,” Mousasi said of the Brazilian veteran. “He’s good everywhere, so I’m coming prepared. I feel like I should definitely be in the top five, so I know I should be able to beat Leites. Technically I’m much better, so I’m gonna fight, and if it comes that it’s even, then I can always brawl and go fight with him. But other than that, I feel like I’m much more technical than him, so I have a lot of advantages.”

If he uses them, he can get this year off to the same start he had last year. And that’s the plan.

“In 2016, I’m trying to continue what I did in 2015,” he said. “I’m in very good shape and I really do feel like I’m in my prime now, physically and mentally. In sparring, I had difficulties with some guys, but now I’m beating them up easily. (Laughs) If I can take those results and put them in the fights, then 2016 is going to be a great year.”