It's very easy to get the hype bandwagon of up and coming fighters rolling in full force. We've seen it happen with fighters like Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Houston Alexander. These fighters come out of nowhere to make their name as they destroy an established well respected fighter. Gegard Mousasi is more established in the MMA world than those two fighters, but he's still relatively unknown to the casual fans of MMA. It's no secret that Mousasi is a young and very talented fighter, and I think Mousasi career will continue to flourish. But, I think we need to take a step back and evaluate just how big this win was over Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Check it:
Sobral is a veteran of the sport, fighting the best of the best in the light heavyweight division. He's fought the likes of a prime Chuck Liddell (2x), Shogun Rua, Dan Henderson, and even has a decision loss to the great Fedor Emelianenko. Sobral hadn't lost since Jason Lambert knocked him out at UFC 68 in 2007. This is the same Jason Lambert that went on to lose his next four fights in a row, being stopped in 3 of those fights. Sobral went on a five fight winning streak since that loss, but if we look a bit closer we'll see that those wins were not against top competition. In fact, the winning percentage of his last 5 opponents was a mere 51%, and the majority of their wins were against mediocre competition.
I'm not calling Sobral a scrub by any means. I had him ranked as the #7 LHW in the world in my last set of rankings. However, that was more due to other ranked fighters losing or leaving the division more so than anything else. I fully expected Mousasi to beat Babalu, because I thought he had the better skill set. I didn't think he would beat him within the first minute of the fight, but I did think he was going to knock him out. Mousasi will make his first appearance in MMA4Real's LHW rankings once they are updated, but I want to contain the hype wagon for now. Mousasi destroying Babalu was impressive, but in the grand scheme of things I think the hype can be dialed back just a bit for now. If we've learned anything, it's that we can determine just how great a fighter is when they fight the best of the best on a consistent basis. Some fans are already discussing if Mousasi could potentially defeat the UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Now that Mousasi has stated that he'll remain in the light heavyweight division for a couple of years, we'll hopefully get to see that come to fruition. However, until that happens, this win over Babalu is a step in the right direction.