Gegard Mousasi leaning heavily towards middleweight, wants Vitor Belfort or other top contender

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Gegard Mousasi is currently rehabbing his injured knee, but when he returns, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion may very well be fighting in a brand new division.

"There's a big chance that I will go to middleweight," Mousasi revealed to MMAFighting.com "It all depends on the fights that I'm going to get. If I'm going to get a big name at middleweight, I'll probably go down.

"It's all about matchups. Let's say they're going to give me somebody like Vitor Belfort that's maybe a contender. That's the kind of fight I want."

Mousasi fought much of his early career in Japan at middleweight, and easily tipped the scales at 204 pounds without cutting weight for his UFC debut.

In the past, the 27-year-old believed dropping back down would've been a dicey proposition, but after considering the way he's recently trained and the ease with which he's lost weight, he's now confident it won't be a problem.

"To be honest, I believe middleweight will be much better for me," Mousasi said. "I will give my opponent less advantages. But at the end of the day it's all about skills. That doesn't mean that size advantages always win, but like I've said, in the highest level, you don't want to give the slightest edge to your opponent. Everyone is skilled, everyone has abilities. So that's why I think middleweight will be much more suitable to my body frame.

"It's all about the opportunity," he continued. "I really want to go for this belt. I believe that style-wise, matchup-wise, I matchup much better against Anderson Silva than Jon Jones, but it doesn't mean that I'm scared to fight at 205. Jon Jones is skilled and so is Anderson Silva, but at the highest levels, when you're competing against the top levels, you don't want to give anybody an advantage. So I don't want to give a weight and size difference advantage also. That's why I said middleweight."

Mousasi is currently ahead of schedule in his recovery from injury and is targeting a late-2013 comeback to the Octagon. When he returns, the Dutch-Armenian fighter hopes to immediately make up for lost time.

"My focus is to get to the belt as soon as possible," said Mousasi. "I‘ve done the route of [waiting]. I don't have those things that other fighters complain about, jetlag and days off. I don't have those issues. I never have. So I'm just looking for big fights.

"The fight I had last (Ilir Latifi), the guy wasn't known, he wasn't ranked. It doesn't mean anything. But I have a history. I only haven't fought in UFC, but I have a history. People come and get immediate title shots. I don't think that's going to be the case for me, but I've beaten champions, ex-champions. So it's all about one, maybe two big names and then I hope to get a title shot."

Mousasi emphasized that his decision is not yet final and will be reliant on whichever division offers him the quickest road to the top. If UFC matchmakers prefer him to fight at light heavyweight, he'll be more than willing to do so, but only against a top-3 opponent, and preferably against Alexander Gustafsson since the two never got the chance to meet at UFC on FUEL 9.

Nonetheless, middleweight is Mousasi's preference at this juncture.

Aside from Belfort, Mousasi also mentioned Yushin Okami as a possible opponent, repeating that he'll cut down to fight anybody residing in the top-3 of the UFC middleweight rankings.

In Mousasi's perfect world, victories over one or two top contenders at 185 pounds would ultimately lead to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. That matchup, Mousasi believes, is a more suitable bout than one against the much taller, longer and heavier Jones.

"I think size-wise, the difference wouldn't be much. Also matchup-wise, I think Anderson is more of a striker," Mousasi said in closing. "Jon Jones is more of a takedowns guy. So I think matchup-wise and also size-wise [it makes more sense]. But I don't have any problem fighting Jon Jones either. So before people make something else out of it and say, ‘Ah, he's already losing' -- I'm confident. I'm a fighter. If I don't have any confidence I can win a fight, then I shouldn't be fighting. So it's not about that. It's just being smart.

"I fought Mark Hunt, you know? I fought K-1 at heavyweight. My last fights, Mike Kyle was much bigger. The guy that I fought, Latifi, he cut 20, 22 pounds before that. He was also much heavier. Size doesn't mean a lot. But like I said, on the highest level guys are much better, so you don't want to give any advantage. That's what I'm saying."

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