News that Gegard Mousasi was joining the UFC was met with anticipation back in 2013, and after what can arguably be seen as an easy debut win over late replacement Ilir Latifi, spirits were dampened when Mousasi then dropped down to middleweight and lost two of his next three, sandwiching a win over Mark Munoz between losses to Lyoto Machida and Jacare Souza.

Then a quick TKO victory over Dan Henderson in January bought him some breathing room. Now, Mousasi, who has held gold all over the place outside of the UFC, takes on Costas Philippou, the Cypriot fighter who seemed on the verge of being in title contention until a pair of back to back losses against Francis Carmont and Luke Rockhold saw him fighting for his job instead. He bounced back against Lorenz Larkin, and both fighters now look to embark upon winning streaks.

What are the keys to victory for Mousasi?

Aggression

Too often, Mousasi employs a laid back style which doesn’t exactly help him in the eyes of the judges. That’s not to say he’s a “point fighter” or boring, but rather, he fights with such a calm demeanor, and relies on his counter striking, creating the illusion of a fighter who’s not as dangerous as he actually is. The problem then becomes one of perception when the fight goes to the scorecard. Mousasi would be better off striking early, as he did against Hendo, in this case.

Mix Up The Strikes

Mousasi is an incredibly decorated striker: amateur boxing champion. Undefeated in professional kickboxing. Cage Warriors champion. Dream champion. Strikeforce champion. He has excellent hands, and a solid arsenal of kicks as well. When looking at the success Luke Rockhold had against Costas Philippou, you see a game plan for success. Mix it up. Go to the body. Mousasi would be wise to follow suit.

Work For The Sub

Something that hasn’t really been discussed all that much is the submission side of this fight. Philippou is a purple belt in BJJ. Mousasi has a black belt in judo, is an excellent grappler, and once signed with ADCC, although he never competed. That said, he has a dozen submission victories in his pro career — if things aren’t working out on the feet, Mousasi should be looking to take this to the ground and work for the sub.

While Philippou is no walk in the park, and has his own keys to victory, Mousasi has the skills to have his hand raised at the end of the night (well, morning depending on where you’re watching). He just needs to execute well.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.