by Steven Marrocco on Jan 28, 2010 for MMAJUNKIE.com
LOS ANGELES – Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi has no plans to fight until his body fails him. When the 24-year-old hits the big 3-0, he’s out.
With that in mind, he has set strict goals for his career’s path, including a jump to heavyweight in 18 months.
Before he bulks up, though, he wants to fight six to eight times in 2010 and plans to start by fighting Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in April. He also plans to participate in a DREAM eight-man light heavyweight tournament rumored for June.
“I’m going to try to stay very busy,” Mousasi told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Wednesday. “It’s better to stay in shape the whole year, fight a lot, than fight and be fat again and train hard again. I don’t like it. I like to be in shape the whole year, be in top shape, and then I’m going to take a break for one or two months (at the end of the year).”
By this time next year, he wants to settle permanently in Glendale, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb known for its vast Armenian population.
“I feel at home here,” Mousasi said as he sat in a Hilton Hotel lounge in Universal City. “Normally, I don’t like it, but I have a lot of friends. It’s very easy to adapt here. I will come with my brother so I don’t feel alone.”
Mousasi (28-2-1 MMA, 1-0 SF) signed a new four-fight deal with DREAM this past December and started the new year off with a bang and pummeled veteran Gary Goodridge into submission at the year-end “Dynamite!! 2009” event.
“It would be awesome if I could win the (DREAM) light heavyweight title,” he said of the upcoming tournament.
But when he feels his frame has filled out, Mousasi is still dead-set on competing as a heavyweight.
“It’s going to take a lot of time,” he said. “I have to take it step by step. I cannot put so many pounds on in a short time. First, I will be a small heavyweight, and slowly I want to put more pounds on. It will take two, three years before I’m a solid heavyweight.”
On Thursday, the Armenian-born fighter meets UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre in Miami for a few days of training and then heads to Las Vegas for another week with the champion and his camp. Wrestling and submissions are top priority.
“I think I can learn a lot,” Mousasi said. “I think I can make it difficult [for him] in training. I don’t think there’s a lot I can teach him [besides] just training as hard as possible. That’s what I’m going to do.”
He then heads back to Amsterdam to train for the first time with K-1 kickboxing legend Peter Aerts and Anderson Silva (not that one — Anderson “Braddock” Silva, a Brazilian kickboxer).
Back home, there’s opportunity to be chased outside the cage and ring.
Mousasi currently lives 30 minutes outside Amsterdam in Leiden, Netherlands, and is in the process of buying a restaurant/apartment building catered toward university students.
“It’s a good deal,” Mousasi said. “You cannot get bankrupt. Even in this economy – because in Holland, it’s a small country, and there’s always need for student rooms. There’s not much room for them. If I kick one of them out, tomorrow I will have another one. Not that I would. It’s a good investment.”
By this time next year, the landlord could have a new nickname: “The Collector”
“Better than ‘The Dreamcatcher,'” Mousasi quipped.
And seeing where his fight career is headed, he could be on the road to a big collection.
Mousasi’s first Strikeforce contract, which was inked this past August following the collapse of Affliction Entertainment, bound him to the promotion for two fights (a savvy move for an in-demand prospect). He fulfilled the first by railroading Renato “Babalu” Sobral for the 205-pound title at “Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg.” The second is planned for a fight with Lawal in the second installment of “Strikeforce on CBS” in mid-April. When Mousasi spoke with MMAjunkie.com, he said his management is in the process of re-negotiating his contract.
However, a well-placed source MMAjunkie.com spoke to Wednesday evening gave strong indications that Mousasi had been signed to a new long-term fight contract with the San Jose, Calif.-based promotion.
“They wanted me to sign for six fights,” Mousasi said of the original deal. “I didn’t want that. They didn’t pay me that much. But money will come. I want to grow with Strikeforce as they grow with Showtime and CBS. I think it’s a good place to be.
“If I had it in my mind, like OK, I’m going to the UFC, then I would have gone. But I have a new contract with DREAM, so I’m planning to stay busy and fight in Strikeforce and Japan constantly.”
It’s get while the getting’s good.
“I don’t want to fight for too long,” he said. “(At) 30, I’m finished. In my mind, (I just want) the amount of money that [would give me] a good life. Anymore than that, I don’t need.
“Until I don’t have the money that I want to have, I’m basically fighting to get there. Once I’m there and I’m one of the best, maybe I will fight for a place in the sport, remembered as one of the best.
“Until then, I’m basically fighting for money.”