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Gegard Mousasi: Michael Bisping was a better match-up for me

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Gegard Mousasi has never lost two in a row in his 45-fight MMA career, and he’s not planning on doing it now.

Following a stunning defeat to Uriah Hall in Japan last September, "The Dreamcatcher" battles Thales Leites in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 84 card in London, and he expects a tougher fight than was initially planned.

Mousasi was originally booked against Michael Bisping in the main event, but now faces the Nova Uniao fighter after former champion Anderson Silva took his spot against "The Count".

"Bisping was a better match-up for me, I believe, because I had to worry less for the takedowns and obviously Thales Leites’ stand-up has improved a lot," Mousasi told MMAFighting.com. "He’s confident in his stand-up, but I believe he will go for the takedown to score points or try to finish the fight. Obviously he’s a tough opponent, very experienced."

Bisping, ranked among the best middleweights for years, was also a good opportunity for Mousasi to jump back into title contention. Against Leites, the stakes are different.

"I don’t think I’m gonna move a lot in the rankings," he said. "Obviously, Michael Bisping was a better fight for me style-wise and name-wise, he’s a bigger name. For me, it’s just to prove that (I can) beat everybody and go to fight the top again, so it’s an important fight for me."

Mousasi isn’t focused on a title run right now. At 4-3 in the UFC, he just wants to win fights and climb the ladder.

"I feel great. I’m very sharp at this moment," Mousasi said. "Physically, I’m a much better shape than I was last time. I was in great shape last fight too, but physically I think I’m much stronger. The stand-up, I feel great. I feel I’m very sharp now. I’m ready for the fight."

Twelve of his 37 professional victories have come by way of submission. However, going to the ground became an issue in the past, as he suffered three of his six losses that way. The longtime veteran knows the Nova Uniao black belt can strike even though he doesn’t have the best stand-up game, as expects some takedowns in London.

"He compensates that with aggression, at least in that last fight," Mousasi said of Leites’ striking abilities. "He goes for the knockout, so he’s dangerous also on the stand-up. I believe he thinks he’s better on the ground and maybe can finish the fight there. If it goes to the judges, takedowns scores points, but I’m prepared for everything.

"I think in the stand-up, I’m better, and he’s going to have difficulties to get the clinch or shoot to take me down," Mousasi added. "I believe I’m gonna be dominant, if I take him down or if I fight him standing. I will be dominant."