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Gegard Mousasi: “The time is now to go and fight those well-known names.”

With an opening round finish of Mike Kyle on Saturday night at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine, light heavyweight Gegard Mousasi cemented his status as a soon-to-be UFC star. It also marked a moment knowledgeable fans have been anticipating for years, watching Mousasi rack up a 33-3-2 record outside of the Octagon including 29 finishes with only a single loss since 2006.

Mousasi is also excited about the opportunity to showcase his skills on a larger stage against the sport’s best, already pointing to possible fights with some of the division’s top contenders.

“I think the timing is right. I’ve done everything outside of the UFCStrikeforce, Japan, kickboxing. I think the time is now to go and fight those well-known names,” said Mousasi in an interview with MMAFighting shortly after his submission of Kyle.

As far as specific adversaries, Mousasi pointed at three of the top 205-pound dogs in Alexander Gustafsson, Mauricio Rua, and Lyoto Machida.

“I’m not challenging (Gustafsson). But I think that’s a good fight. I want to fight him because he’s a good fighter, people think he’s a good fighter,” explained Mousasi. “‘Shogun’, Machida – all of these guys people consider really good fighters, so I want to fight someone that people think is good and I think these match ups are more exciting than against some other opponents and they’re top contenders so, I think fighting them would make sense for me the most so I can go earlier to the title shot.”

The 15-1 Gustafsson is poised for a crack at Jon Jones championship after beating Rua in December. However, the 6’4” Swede is in a position of having to wait for “Bones” to defend his belt against Chael Sonnen in late April, as well as against the winner of Machida’s February fight with Dan Henderson, meaning Gustafsson could be open to the challenge.

PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE