Two highly-regarded middleweights looking to rebound are set to meet this weekend in Berlin in the main event of UFC Fight Night 41. Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi are both looking to take positive steps up the ladder after stumbling in their last assignments.
Munoz was brutally finished by Lyoto Machida via head kick in the first round of their contest at Fight Night 30 in England, and the 36-year-old must be aware that his time to shine may be winding down. “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” has produced a solid 8-4 Octagon record, but in the past he hasn’t been able to take down elite competition.
He failed against “The Dragon” and was also dominated and battered by middleweight champion Chris Weidman, who finished him in the second round of their 2012 fight. The No. 7 ranked Munoz has a stellar wrestling background and a formidable ground-and-pound game. He will likely need to employ that against Mousasi who would have the advantage in a stand-up battle.
Mousasi also tasted defeat in his last fight against Machida, but he managed to last the distance and pick up a bonus check for a Fight of the Night performance at Fight Night 36. The five-round contest was “The Dreamcatcher’s” first assignment in the 185-pound ranks after making the move down from light heavyweight. He’s just 1-1 in his UFC tenure with that lone victory coming against Ilir Latifi. The former Strikeforce and Dream champion saw his seven-fight unbeaten streak halted by Machida and will be looking to get back on track against Munoz.
The No. 11 ranked Mousasi is a very technical striker who has 18 knockouts to his credit in 34 career wins. One of those KOs was a first-round stoppage of current No. 4 ranked middleweight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. He also possesses strong submission skills. In his 40-fight career, Mousasi has never been knocked out which is a testament to his toughness.
The stakes are quite high entering this contest. Munoz is fighting to prove he’s more than just a gatekeeper in the division. A second straight loss in a main event clash would see his stock drop dramatically and would end his faint title hopes. However, a victory over someone with Mousasi’s credentials would provide a major career boost.
Mousasi elected to make the weight drop because he thought he could become a major player in the middleweight ranks. He can definitely line himself up for another high-profile clash with an impressive performance against Munoz. However, a second straight setback would be a significant blow at this stage of Mousasi’s career.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports