2008 has been a defi ning year for Gegard Mousasi.
The Armenian-Dutch fi ghter recently claimed the Dream middleweight grand prix championship, defeating American Top Team’s Denis Kang, Korean Judoka Dong Sik Yoon, fi erce striker Melvin Manhoef, and decorated grappler Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza along the way. In addition to winning the tournament, the 23-year-old fi ghter earned the distinction of being Dream’s fi rst middleweight champion.
Mousasi is currently riding an 11-fi ght winning streak and has emerged as one of the best 185-pound fi ghters today. Despite his recent success, many American fans still do not know who Mousasi is. That may change in the near future.
Gegard Mousasi was born to Armenian parents on August 1, 1985, in Iran. In 1988, after the Iran-Iraq war ended, his family moved to the Netherlands. After fi nishing school, Mousasi shifted his focus toward fi ghting.
Martial arts have been a part of Mousasi’s life ever since he was a teenager. He began boxing at age 15 and found that he had a natural ability for the sweet science. He would go on to become an amateur boxing champion in the Netherlands. Mousasi later transitioned into kickboxing, a discipline that has proven to be an essential part of his offensive arsenal.
Mousasi began his MMA career fi ght-ing in multiple organizations, including 2 Hot 2 Handle, M-1 MFC, and Rings. Two impressive victories with the Japanesebased DEEP caught the eyes of Pride Fighting Championships organizers, who would later invite Mousasi to compete in the 2006 middleweight grand prix.
As the youngest participant ever in a Pride tournament, Mousasi made an impressive debut, defeating Olympic Gold Medalist Judoka Makoto Takimoto in the opening round of the grand prix. Mousasi showed great poise in withstanding his Japanese counterpart’s grappling prowess and was able to fi nish Takimoto with strikes. It was later discovered that Takimoto suffered a broken orbital bone.
Four months later, the Jurojin fi ghter would face fan favorite Akihiro Gono in the quarterfi nals. Mousasi succumbed to an armbar by his crafty opponent late in the fi ght despite a solid performance. The loss was a learning experience for the future Dream champion and he successfully rebounded with a unanimous decision victory over Hector Lombard in his third and fi nal Pride appearance.
Mousasi’s loss to Akihiro Gono was only the second of his career, and it would be the last to this day. After the demise of Pride, Mousasi competed in a few different organizations while adding the Cage Warriors middleweight title to his resume.
For Mousasi, fi nding a home with Dream has been a defi ning period in his career. The newly crowned champion’s recent success is indicative of his dedication to the sport and to his training. Mousasi is a consummate athlete, and his best fi ghts are yet to come. Success overseas has opened many doors for the talented kickboxer, and American fans may soon get the opportunity to see one of the best 185-pound fi ghters today.