The next time you hear UFC President Dana White say that the best fighters in the world fight in the UFC, think about this:
- The main event of UFC Fight Night on FOX Sports 1 features Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, two fighters who were headliners in Strikeforce.
- Mousasi is a former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
- Souza is former Strikeforce middleweight champion.
- The match is a rematch from 2008 when Mousasi knocked Souza out in the first round with an upkick at Dream 6.
- King Mo, whom the UFC fired, who is now a headliner in Bellator, manhandled Mousasi pretty easily in Strikforce, taking his championship.
- The headliner of the co-main event, Alistair Overeem, is the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
The top of the card features three former headliners from Strikeforce. These guys were good fighters in Strikeforce and they are good fighters in the UFC.
Give credit to the UFC for branding its product and convincing a majority of tight-shirt wearing barflys that the best fighters in the world fight in the UFC, but the truth is not that simple. Yes, some of the best fighters in the world fight in the UFC, but there are great fighters out there who don’t.
Let’s not forget that UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez made his professional debut under the Strikeforce banner.
The Mousasi vs. Souza fight should be a classic, but it’s not likely that it will have the same outcome as the first fight. Mousasi knocked Souza out cold from his back with a foot to the face. Souza has emerged as a top talent in MMA. He has only once, to former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, since his loss to Mousasi in 2008.
Mousasi has lost twice since the first fight, to King Mo and Lyoto Machida. Mousasi is a dangerous fighter. He’s coming off an impressive win. Expect Souza to fight smarter than the first fight and likely push Mousasi into uncharted territory. Both fighters want title shots and the winner could be in line for the title shot if he wins big on Friday night.