UFC FIGHT NIGHT 41: MUNOZ VS. MOUSASI Date: May 31, 2014 Location: Berlin, Germany Venue: O2 World Broadcast: Fight Pass UFC Middleweight Gegard Mousasi (-210) One of MMA’s best-kept secrets, Gegard Mousasi (34-4-2) is a well-known name for fans of the Japanese fight scene. Mousasi has been in the backstage locker room of just about every MMA organization outside of Bellator, including Pride, Dream, M-1and Bodog just to name a few, and he has dominated in most promotions. From 2006 to 2009, Mousasi amassed a 14-fight winning streak, beginning with a win over Hector Lombard in Pride and ending when King Mo took his Strikeforce light heavyweight title from him at the end of a five-round decision at Strikeforce: Nashville. Technically, he’s still the Dream light heavyweight champion and owns notable career wins over Mark Hunt, Jacare Souza, Babalu, Ovince St Preux, and Mike Kyle in the final Strikeforce event. Mousasi transitioned to the UFC after the purchase of Strikeforce in a highly-anticipated bout against Alexander Gustafsson, but Gustafsson had to pull out of the fight after a cut over his eye pulled him from the bout, so Mousasi dominated Ilir Latifi, a late replacement for Gustafsson. It was revealed that Mousasi injured his oft-troubled knee before the Latifi bout, keeping him out of action until he stepped up to fight Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36. Mousasi ended up losing a decision to Machida, but it was a respectable performance and now the UFC has matched him up against another contender coming off a loss, Mark Munoz. UFC Middleweight Mark Munoz (+160) Mark Munoz (13-4) was viewed as one of the top middleweights up until 2012, when he ran into an elbow from eventual UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. The 36-year-old vet was riding a four-fight winning streak before losing to Weidman, beating Demian Maia at UFC 131 and Aaron Simpson at UFC 123 by unanimous decision and knocking out C.B. Dollaway at UFC on Versus 3, in addition to second round TKO win over Chris Leben. After this loss to Weidman, Munoz fell into a deep depression, ballooning up to 260 pounds. “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” came back to reality in his training camp for Tim Boetsch, and returned to the Octagon looking more dominant than ever, absolutely brutalizing Boetsch with his signature ground and pound at UFC 162. All was set for another rise in the middleweight ranks for Munoz, as he was preparing to take on Michael Bisping in the UK, but Bisping had to pull out of the fight with an eye injury, and in popped Lyoto Machida, making his middleweight debut against Munoz, who he trained with at Black House. Munoz was knocked out by a brutal head kick from Machida, and after taking time off to recover he now faces Machida’s other latest victim, Gegard Mousasi, in the main event of UFC Fight Night 41. Opening UFC Fight Night 41 Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Mousasi a -210 favorite (bet $210 to win $100) while Munoz opened as a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160) at Several Bookmakers. The main event of UFC Berlin is a good one as two of the top middleweights in town go to war for up to 25 minutes. It’s basically a striker vs. grappler matchup, with Mousasi likely looking to keep the fight standing and Munoz looking to get the takedowns. But while Mousasi did show in his loss to King Mo a few years back that his weakness is likely his takedown defence, he has definitely improved in that area in recent fights and it won’t be easy for Munoz to get him down and on the feet there is a huge difference in the skills of Mousasi to Munoz. And it’s because of his huge edge on the feet that you see Mousasi enter this bout as the favorite. Profiles by Jason Nawara.