Gegard Mousasi has an important fight coming up Saturday, but he's also waging another battle away from the Octagon.
The veteran MMA competitor has filed a lawsuit against his former sponsor Fear the Fighter and its president John Makdessi, Mousasi's UFC peer. Mousasi claims the company still owes him money, though he won't disclose how much.
Makdessi defended himself last week on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. The Canadian fighter said he was president of Fear the Fighter, but it was really run mostly by his brother David and others. Makdessi said he was "never" part of the business side and the company is currently being sold and reorganized. Mousasi, though, is not buying the deflection.
"The courts will decide," Mousasi told MMAFighting.com. "However, it is hard to accept his defense. He acknowledges that he was president and that he wanted to benefit from the investment. So how can you not accept the liability associated with that investment? Ignorance is not a legal defense, and what he said sounds desperate and foolish."
Makdessi is not happy that his name is getting dragged through the mud.
"I'm tired of people pointing fingers at me," he said on The MMA Hour. "I just wanted to clear that up. I was never involved in the business. They sponsored me, my brother helped me, took care of my sponsorship, he helped with the management side of my career, that's it. That was my only involvement with Fear the Fighter.
"It's very unfortunate what's happened with all the fighters and there's a lot of speculation, but I just want to clear my name. I can't speak for my brother or any other person, all I can do is speak for myself. I was a sponsored athlete, I was never a part of the business. That was my part."
Mousasi's focus right now is on the bout in front of him. He meets Costas Philippou in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber on Saturday in Manila. Philippou might be behind him in the rankings and he doesn't carry Mousasi's name value, but the Dutch fighter still believes an exciting win can generate some buzz.
"I do truly believe that a title shot is within reach, but I don't think this fight will take me up in the rankings," Mousasi said. "But a dominant performance will make a title shot realistic within a year."
Mousasi (36-5-2) is coming off a first-round TKO of Dan Henderson at UFC on FOX 14 in January. He has losses to Lyoto Machida and Ronaldo Souza recently with a win over Mark Munoz in between. Mousasi has been a pro fighter for 12 years, but he's still only 29 years old with plenty of time to make another run at the belt. That's what makes this fight with Philippou pivotal.
"It is important because I have a lot to lose and it is going to get me closer to my title run," Mousasi said.
Mousasi is letting his legal team take care of the lawsuit. Something like his situation might never happen again in the UFC with Reebok coming on board as a uniform sponsor. Fighters will not be able to wear any other brand in the Octagon, during fight week or for UFC-related events.
"The Dreamcatcher" believes it's a double-edged sword. Many fighters have spoken out about their potential to lose a lot money with no other in-cage sponsor available. Mousasi said he is one of those.
"There are a few fighters that will benefit from it," Mousasi said. "I think the vast majority will have to assume a pay cut. Even with all the sponsorship issues, I will make substantially less with the new model. This Reebok deal is work in progress and hopefully it will improve with positive dialogue and input between all the people that are involved and invested in this situation."