Mousasi Not Worried About Title Shot, Calls UFC Middleweight Division ‘a Popularity Contest’

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 1, 2017

Gegard Mousasi has a realistic take on the current state of the UFC’s middleweight division.

The 31-year-old Netherlands native has a pivotal bout against Chris Weidman in the UFC 210 co-main event on April 8. It’s a bout that should have title implications, but Mousasi isn’t necessarily looking at it that way.

“I need to get the win, that’s the most important. I’m more than ready,” Mousasi said during a recent media call. “After that it’s just a popularity contest. Let’s be honest. Yoel Romero is next, but he’s not getting his shot. Simply because he doesn’t speak English, he’s Cuban. Those things matter. I need to win. I need to do my job first, and we’ll see how it goes.”

While the aforementioned Romero is currently riding an eight-fight winning streak and is ranked No. 1 among contenders at 185 pounds, he won’t be getting the next title shot. If all goes as planned, former welterweight king Georges St. Pierre will face reigning champ Michael Bisping at an undetermined date later this year. The UFC recently announced the matchup, much to the chagrin of many in the MMA community.

However, Bisping delivered an ultimatum earlier this week, telling St. Pierre that he will give Romero the next title shot if the Tristar Gym product isn’t ready to fight by the summer. Mousasi isn’t buying it.

“Bisping just talks. He’s gonna wait for a Mickey Mouse fight. I don’t think he wants to fight Yoel Romero, or he wants  to delay it as much as possible,” Mousasi said. “He’s probably gonna retire in one or two fights, so obviously he’s looking for the big fight to get a little bit of money. You can’t blame the guy; he wants to take care of his family, make money. Good for him. But you know, the No. 1 contender has to get his shot.”

Mousasi has won four fights in a row and six of seven in the Octagon overall. That streak includes triumphs over the likes of Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Thales Leites and Uriah Hall. Although a win over Weidman, a former titlist himself, would only further bolster his resume, Mousasi doesn’t sense that a No. 1 contender spot is imminent (Vegas odds).

“I don’t think so, but Yoel Romero is next. He’s the No. 1 contender. I’m not focused on the title right now,” Mousasi said. “I’m just focused on Weidman. To get the win, that’s all.”

Once regarded as the top talent in the division, Weidman relinquished his belt in a fourth-round TKO loss to Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 and followed that up with a third-round knockout loss against Romero at UFC 205. Prior to that, the Serra-Longo Fight Team representative began his career with 13 consecutive wins, besting the likes of Anderson Silva (twice), Demian Maia, Lyoto Machida and Belfort.

“I know how Weidman’s gonna fight me. He’s gonna come forward, try to put the pressure on me, work on the cardio, do some wrestling, do some striking. At the end of the day, I’m prepared,” Mousasi said. “I know exactly what he’s going to do. So I’m more than prepared. I’ve got my skills and I’m gonna show it. I’m very confident, that’s all I can say.”


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