Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi recently took the time to talk to Mark Wayne of Fightline.com to discuss his upcoming title defense against Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal at Strikeforce: Nashville.
Fightline.com: Hi Gegard, I know you are busy and have training to do so we will make this one quick. First of all, how are you, how has preparation for the fight been going?
Gegard Mousasi: Training has been good. I have a good game plan. I’ve done my job with training now it’s only the fight that’s left.
Fightline: Saturday night you’re going to be taking on Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal in Nashville, TN. Although he did not grow up there, “King Mo” was born in Tennessee and will likely have the crowd’s support Saturday night. Does the possibility of getting booed or not having the crowd behind you bother you at all?
Mousasi: No, I’m just going to fight my fight. I’m not thinking about what the crowd will do. As long as you punch and kick I don’t think they’re going to boo.
Fightline: Fair enough. You are the favorite going into this fight and you obviously have the edge in experience but you may never have faced a wrestler as decorated as “King Mo”. Have you done anything different in this training camp to prepare for his wrestling offense?
Mousasi: Well, his wrestling is good but that will be good only in the first round. Maybe he’ll take me down once or twice but I’m expecting to fight on my back and I’ve fought a lot of fights on my back so the wrestling is not going to affect as much as people think.
Fightline: Okay, and how do you see this fight with “King Mo” playing out?
Mousasi: End of the first round or second round I think I will win.
Fightline: We have seen you finish fights standing and on the ground both with strikes and submissions. You are obviously a very talented and well rounded fighter; do you think that those skills, the fact that you can fight off of your back and that you strike very well, will make the difference for you in this fight with “King Mo”?
Mousasi: Yeah, definitely. I have a game plan and I know I’m going to be on my back maybe once or twice but I’m very confident that he will not be able to do any damage there. So, I just need to ride it out or wait for a stand up. I’m confident in what I can do.
Fightline: I know that you have trained with Georges St. Pierre and Fedor Emelianenko in the past; who did you train with to prepare yourself for King Mo?
Mousasi: I trained with some good wrestlers. No one famous. I trained with Peter Aerts, he’s a K-1 champion four times. He has strong standup, he’s one of the best kick-boxers. So, I got my help in those areas.
Fightline: Okay, and what about your training camp? Did you moved around at all or did you mostly stay in the Netherlands?
Mousasi: Yeah, I trained in Holland. For a fight I don’t want to change anything. I’ve been preparing for all my fights like this so I haven’t changed anything.
Fightline: You competed at heavyweight in your last fight and did very well, knocking out Gary Goodridge in the first round. Excluding your friend Fedor Emelianenko, do you have any desire to compete against some of the tough heavyweights that Strikeforce has to offer; like Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski or Brett Rogers?
Mousasi: At this moment I’m just too small for heavyweight. If I go up to heavyweight it has to make sense. I have to win my fights first at light-heavyweight; to be impressive at light-heavyweight. I’m thinking about heavyweight in two years if everything goes well; no injuries, win all my fights. So, right at this moment no. I need the time to put on the weight and feel comfortable, so it’s just something in the future that I’m thinking about. It’s one thing that I want to do, just for myself. I’m not doing it to prove anything to someone. It’s just for myself that I want to accomplish that goal and be a champion at heavyweight one day. It’s something personal.
Fightline: Sure, you want to test yourself against the best.
Mousasi: Yeah, against bigger fighters I want to see if I’ll do well.
Fightline: Pretending that promotions and contracts didn’t exist, there is no UFC, there is no Strikeforce; who are the fighters out there in other organizations that you would really like to test yourself against?
Mousasi: At light-heavyweight I would like to fight [Lyoto] Machida if it doesn’t have anything to do with Strikeforce or UFC. He is the champion there so I would like to fight him. But it doesn’t make sense to challenge people that you cannot fight.
Fightline: Sure, but that would be a dream match up for fans. You have fought in the US twice now but some of the casual fans are still unfamiliar with who you are. Can you tell us something about yourself so that those fans might get to know you better?
Mousasi: I’m a nice guy? [Laughs] I hope so. I don’t know, family is important for me [Laughs]. I don’t know what to say about that.
Fightline: Okay Gegard, thanks a lot for taking the time today. We really appreciate it and good luck on Saturday.
Mousasi: Thank you very much.
Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi will be defending his belt against challenger Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal this Saturday evening at “Strikeforce: Nashville” live on CBS.