After being inactive for all of 2012 due to a torn ACL, Gegard Mousasi began creeping back to relevance this year, choking out Mike Kyle for Strikeforce in January, then winning a lopsided 15-minute sparring session against Ilir Latifi for his UFC debut in April. For a moment, it seemed like Sweet Sassy was poised to make an impact in the UFC light-heavyweight division. Well, not so much. A new knee injury will sideline Mousasi until the end of the year, and his days at 205 might be behind him for good.
Mousasi confirmed with MMAJunkie.com Radio last week that he’s currently recovering from a surgery to correct a second tear of the same ACL, an injury which he blamed on training too hard. He doesn’t expect to return to competition until November or December — not because the rehab will take that long, but because he plans to do “a lot of partying” this year.
“I’m planning on the recovery, but I’m planning to enjoy life a little bit,” Mousasi said. “In the past, I’ve always been training, always about the sport. Once you have this injury, you discover other stuff. I plan on having a good time.”
As for his postponed fight against Alexander Gustafsson? Mousasi’s not too concerned about it. He already hinted last month that he might be dropping back down to 185 pounds — the weight-class in which he first rose to prominence — and further explained his motivations like this:
“I believe if I go to 185 I’ll be much stronger. At the highest level, you don’t want to give any advantage. If you look at Jon Jones, you don’t want to fight a guy that’s very talented, has the skills, and also has the strength. Then you give too much advantage away…
I think that there’s a big chance I will go. If the UFC says, come fight at 205, and if you win two or three times, we’ll give you a title shot. If they say 185, because I was also middleweight champ, maybe win one fight and maybe I can be a contender. Whatever is the fastest way to the belt.”
Theoretically, the fastest way to the belt is to find another profession altogether until either Anderson Silva or Jon Jones retires. Realistically, the new injury layoff gives Mousasi an even longer ladder to climb. Will the UFC be as hot on the Not-So-Young Vagabond when he finally returns?