When Gegard Mousasi takes on Hiroshi Izumi in a light heavyweight championship showdown at Dream 17 in Tokyo on Saturday, it will be a matchup where the experience gap will be even larger than the talent gap, which is saying a lot when you consider that a champion is stepping into the cage. Mousasi, the champion, enters the match with a career mark of 30-3 with two draws. Izumi, the challenger, has won four of five. That’s not just four of his last five, that’s four of five in his career. Odds.
Underdogs are fun to pick, but even Rocky, Adrian, and Paulie would put all their chips down on the champion, even at the steep 1-to-11 odds. The pick here is for the champion MOUSASI to win, probably in a TKO victory, before the third round.
After losing the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight belt last April in Nashville to Muhammad Lawal, Mousasi bounced back to capture the DREAM Light Heavyweight championship last September with a submission victory over Tatsuya Mizuno in the first round at DREAM 16 in Japan. His most recent battle was just three months ago versus Keith Jardine, in a match where the two men battled to a draw. Mousasi might have come out on top if not for being deducted a point due to an illegal upkick. Many observers believed that Mousasi clearly won the fight (among them UFC President Dana White, who after observing the fight reacted on Twitter “you’ve got to be (expletive) me?”). Even FightMetric found that Mousasi out-struck Jardine 146-21. Nonetheless, rules are rules, and this one still went in the books as a draw, but the message we can take from the match is clear, Mousasi looked like every bit of a champion with his dominant style, and Izumi needs to be aware just how much of an effort he needs to muster to take out Mousasi. Scores.
Izumi (4-1) debuted on the circuit in 2009. He is coming off a third-round stoppage of Ikuhisa Minowa at K-1’s Dynamite card on New Year’s Eve. The judo practitioner has won four straight since being defeated by Antz Nanzen in his MMA debut. Despite his short resume, stamina should not be an issue for Izumi, as three of his four victories have either gone the distance or been decided in the third round. The Mousasi battle will be Izumi’s first match since his victory on New Year’s Eve. It will also be in all likelihood his toughest bout ever. Betting lines.
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