International Fight Week is well under way, and with UFC 200 being the crown jewel, the promotional intensity dial is cranked up to 11. With a slew of compelling match-ups including a pair of title fights and the return of Brock Lesnar, it would be hard to deny that this card might just end up being the most significant one since UFC 100, and may even eclipse it in PPV buys.
The Fight Pass prelims will feature three bouts, and is a very solid opener to such a momentous and historic event. Among those three bouts is an especially intriguing one between Number 8 ranked contender, Gegard Mousasi and Number 15 ranked Thiago Santos, a late replacement for the injured Derek Brunson.
Any time the contenders get matched with an opponent outside the Top 10, a great risk is undertaken, a fact Mousasi is all too familiar with. When asked in a recent interview with the Three Amigos Podcast if he'd like the opportunity to face Brunson at a later date, he explained why the fight holds no appeal to him.
"No, I wouldn't, because if I get this win, I think I will get a more well-known name or ranked opponent next time around. These guys are dangerous fighters, but they don't have a lot of name recognition, so why take the chance fighting guys that aren't so well-known? When I fight a guy that has better name recognition, I get more out of it, and I have more to win if I fight a Vitor Belfort or an Anderson Silva."
Thiago Santos has very little downside in taking this fight. If he wins, he will likely be catapulted into the Top 10, and if he loses, he's lost to a very respectable Top 10 guy. These dark horse fighters can make or break title run hopes, and are viewed by many as more of a threat than guys at the top of their divisions. While Gegard recognizes the danger Santos presents, he feels confident of getting the victory.
"He's on a winning streak, he's confident and he comes to fight, so he's a guy with a lot of momentum behind him. Obviously he's hungry, so he's definitely not an opponent you want to underestimate. That said, things will go my way when the fight happens because I think I'm on another level than him, even if he is dangerous."
With just about every middleweight in the UFC lining up to fight newly crowned champion Michael Bisping, fans have been clamoring for an answer to the question on everyone's mind, "Who's next?" One popular suggestion is Dan Henderson, due to the history between the two stemming from Henderson's historic win over "The Count" at UFC 100. Mousasi doesn't see the logic in the proposed bout, naming several others in the division that should be ahead of Henderson.
"It doesn't make sense at all. I think Jacare is next in line, and maybe Yoel Romero when he comes back. Chris Weidman should be in the running for a fight, or Anderson Silva. Even Georges St-Pierre wants to fight him. It really doesn't make sense, but this sport is not about who earns it or not, it's just about who is more popular or who is gonna do better pay-per-views. It's entertainment, and it's not so fair that way."
You can catch this interview in its entirety here at the 57:05 mark or via the embedded player below. Remember, if you're looking for us on SoundCloud or iTunes, we're under the MMA Nation name. Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie Haynes, Three Amigos Podcast, Geroge Lockhart, Iain Kidd and Mookie Alexander or our Facebook fan page, Three Amigos Pod.