RIO DE JANEIRO -- Solving Lyoto Machida’s puzzle is not an easy task, and that’s why Gegard Mousasi has hired a karate sparring partner to get ready for his next fight.
Mousasi returns to the Octagon on Feb. 15 in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil, to take on the former light-heavyweight champion at UFC Fight Night 36, and he hired Jaouad Ikan, a former world champion in karate, to help him get ready for Machida’s elusive striking game.
"I already know how Machida fights style-wise," Mousasi told MMAFighting.com, "and I have a training partner that has fought him twice in karate, so I will be ready for him."
Mousasi is also training with Satoshi Ishii, who has trained in the past with "The Dragon" at Black House in Los Angeles, but he hasn’t called Ishii to get inside information from Machida’s training camp.
"That was a long time ago, and that’s now why here’s here for," he said. "We’re helping each other. I’m already training and in shape. It’s basically getting shape now, and then concentrate in my fight."
Few fighters were able to stand and do well against the Brazilian, but Mousasi is confident his aggressive style will help him.
"I’m more of a kickboxer, he’s a counter puncher," he said. "He takes his time and has good feeling of distance. My style is to come forward and keep the pressure, so I think I’m gonna match up really well."
Mousasi returns to middleweight after going 10-1-1 in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions over the last five years, and his performance against Ilir Latifi wasn’t one of the reasons why he decided to move down.
"I gave some weight advantages to my opponents, so I’m gonna be physically stronger in this division," he said. "And I don’t need to cut much weight, this is my natural weight division. I’ll perform at my best at 185."
"The Dreamcatcher" won’t rule out the possibility of fighting at 205 pounds again, but his focus is in the middleweight division.
"I’m gonna concentrate at 185, but I have no problems fighting at 205," he said. "But I wanna make a title run so doesn’t make sense to change weight constantly. I’m going for the 185-pound belt, that’s my goal."
Chris Weidman puts his title on the line against Anderson Silva at UFC 168, and Vitor Belfort is already waiting for his shot at the gold. Mousasi knows there’s a chance he earns a title shot with a win over Machida, and he’s willing to sit and wait for the opportunity.
"Vitor Belfort is going to get the next shot and I think my fight against Machida is gonna determine the No. 1 contender, but it could take a long time," he said. "After this, if I win, I’d have to wait for a long time. I’ll concentrate on this one. But if I have to wait for a title shot, I’m gonna wait.
"It’s not up to me. Personally, I would like to get a title shot. I think I’ve done enough. But that’s not up to me. First I have to perform and win in a good fashion, and then we’ll go from there."