Keith Jardine returns to the Zuffa family is a feel good story, but Gegard Mousasi knows he’s going to be in a foul mood if he loses to the veteran. A loss would open up the floodgates for the critics.
Mousasi’s been trying to erase the stigma of a one-sided loss to Muhammed Lawal and another loss, to Jardine, who was cut last year by the UFC, will put him out of the light heavyweight title picture for a long time.
"Not to disrespect Jardine, but say I would fight Jon Jones; if I would lose people still would say, ‘Jon Jones is the God and he won and he’s the pound-for-pound (best).’ If I would lose to Keith Jardine people would say ‘he’s (Mousasi) overrated.’ There’s more to lose, that’s what I mean. It’s not like I don’t have respect for Keith Jardine," Mousasi told Bleacher Report.
Jardine (15-9-1, 6-7 UFC) was called on Thursday night to fill in for the injured Mike Kyle. Kyle has an injured right hand and had to bail from the Strikeforce card in San Diego. It’s the first major Strikeforce card under new management with Zuffa. Jardine was also a solid earner for the UFC, but had to be axed when he lost four straight. He’s always talked about working his way back to the promotion. It sounds like he was sent out with the promise that he’d return if he got a couple of wins under his belt in the minors. Jardine lost his first time out of the gates against Trevor Prangley, but picked up wins in December and early March. When Zuffa called, he had to jump at the opportunity to take on a top 15 light heavyweight.
For Mousasi, it’s a must-win situation.
"This kind of fight is where I have the most to lose because people expect me to win, especially since he’s taking the fight on such short notice. This is the type of fight that I can’t win a lot, because if I win they’ll say that, ‘well, you won over somebody that wasn’t prepared,’ and if I lose, it’s (to) somebody that got kicked out of the UFC. It’s a difficult situation and there’s not much I can gain."
Mousasi (30-3-1) exploded onto the scene back in 2008 when he won the DREAM middleweight Grand Prix. He actually got a break with Jardine. Mousasi’s takedown defense is still in question. At least he didn’t get a guy who is going to look to get the fight to the ground.