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Gegard Mousasi looking for March return, has sights set on fight with Luke Rockhold

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

With the UFC’s middleweight division finally beginning to clear up a little bit, the dark horse contender of the division — Gegard Mousasi — is mapping his course to a title shot.

Mousasi, who avenged his loss to Uriah Hall on Saturday in Belfast, Northern Ireland at UFC Fight Night 99, has now won four fights in a row since losing to Hall back in 2015. He thinks that if he wins a fifth fight in a row he’ll have positioned himself into obvious contention. And he has a couple of preferred names that he’d like to see, as well as a time frame for his return.

"I just heard Luke Rockhold is coming back in February or March, and that’s when I’m planning to fight," he said during an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "I’m going to take a break. It’s too soon for me to fight now. I’m not going to fight anytime sooner. I am going to take my break, and hopefully March. Nothing confirmed, but that is the fight I’m looking for — or a big fight. A big fight like I mean a big name, like Anderson [Silva]. Anderson is a big name. Nick Diaz is a big name. He fought at middleweight, and I’d love to fight him at middleweight."

With Chris Weidman having lost to Yoel Romero at UFC 205 on Nov. 12, middleweight champion Michael Bisping has his next challenger wrapped up. Rockhold was scheduled to fight Ronaldo Souza this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 101 in Melbourne, Australia, but Rockhold was forced out an injury. With the reshuffling of the division over the last couple of weeks, Mousasi said he wants the right contender to trampoline himself towards the winner of Bisping-Romero.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean "Jacare," whom Mousasi has fought twice already, having split the first two encounters. When asked if that trilogy interested him, Mousasi said he’d prefer hold off.

"Not at this moment," he said. "If they give me the fight, March. I take it in March. No, the last time I fought Jacare, I didn’t want to fight. But the UFC, Dana White called me personally, and under pressure I said, okay, I’ll fight. And then fight was one month later. I wasn’t in the mood that fight. I was just coming off the Mark Munoz fight, and they called me for that fight.

"But I have one fight left to fight for the belt, I believe. So, I’m going to take the fight when I’m ready. I’m not scared to fight anybody. It just has to be smart. I’d rather it be let’s say Luke Rockhold, someone like that. Because I feel there’s much more to gain."

Mousasi divulged that he has one fight left on his current UFC contract, meaning his next fight becomes big in more ways than one. He said he plans to gamble on himself, rather than to renew beforehand.

"I am going to fight the contract out," he said. "I feel confident I can beat anybody. But I am going to take it when I’m ready. But I’m not going to rush.

"My goal is if I fight Luke Rockhold, and I beat him, I’m the next contender," he said. "That’s my plan. So if they want, they’ll have to re-sign me I believe. That’s my goal. Fight Luke Rockhold, and get the next shot."

One thing that the 31-year old Mousasi did say is that he would be smart with the remainder of his career. The Dutch fighter said he’s been a little too accommodating in the past, stepping into bad situations when he was injured. He cited the fight against Lyoto Machida back in 2014 at UFC Fight Night 36 in Brazil.

"Where did it get me?" he said. "I got losses, and at the end of the day they’re not going to say thank you for stepping up. They’re going to say, well, you lost to this guy. So, I’m going to be smart about it."

The former Strikeforce and DREAM champion has emerged this year as not only a contender at middleweight, but as one of the more interesting characters in the game, both on social media, and in interviews. He was at it again Monday when being frank about his career.

"After this career, no one is going to say thank you for your job," he said. "All you’re going to have left is what’s left of your fans, some stupid memories of some stupid belt maybe, and whatever money you make. So, I’m not here for fame or whatever. I’m here for that belt, and I’m going to get me a nicer car."