Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi announced today that he has parted ways with M-1 Global, both from a management and promotional standpoint:
“After careful consideration, I have decided that it is in my best interest to part ways with M-1 Global. During the time I spent under their wing, M-1 Global, as a promoter and management company, allowed me to achieve many great things. I appreciate all they have done for me.”
Before everyone starts tripping over themselves and putting "The Dreamcatcher" forward as a replacement to the injured Vitor Belfort opposite Anderson Silva at UFC 112 , Mousasi added that his current contract is with Strikeforce and he intends to honor that deal.
But what happens when that contract expires?
As has been said many before times in this space: somewhere, Dana White is smiling.
Mousasi is widely acknowledged as one of the best fighters outside the UFC and has already accomplished a great deal despite being just 24 years old.
He burst onto the scene with an upset run through the 2008 DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix, and followed that up by winning the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title from Renato "Babalu" Sobral last summer.
Over the last few months, however, cracks began to show in the M-1 armour regarding Mousasi.
After last summer's "Did they or didn't they?" situation regarding an apparent offer from the UFC, reports circulated that the rising star was contractually contected at the hip with Fedor Emelianenko, the prize of the M-1 stable and company co-owner.
While such a situation is understandable from M-1's perspective (put the two biggest draws together and maximize your piece of the pie) it did little for Mousasi, who would always be second banana behind Emelianenko.
More recently, the Armenian-Dutch fighter spent time training with UFC Welterweight champion Georges St.-Pierre.
Though the session was a quickly thrown-together affair, it is hard to believe that the topic of discussion didn't shift to the UFC at some point along the way.
And there might not be a better spokesperson for the Las Vegas-based company right now than "Rush," as his success inside the Octagon has started to pay dividends outside the cage over the last year.
For now, Mousasi remains in the Strikeforce fold, with a fight against Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal looking like the next outing for the Light Heavyweight champ.
While Dana White is smiling, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker should be worried.
The San Jose-based fight promotion has been making strides to move into competition with White and the UFC over the last year, and Mousasi was a part of that process.
He is one of few highly marketable and in-demand fighters the organization has on their roster, but many will see this move as the beginning of the end to their relationship.
Only time will tell if these developments are the early markings of a future move to the UFC for Gegard Mousasi.
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