A middle-aged man from northern Brazil doesn't exactly scream "video game demographic." Distak holds the Xbox controller awkwardly, almost as if his body is naturally repelling it.
When they pick characters, Mousasi again chooses himself. For Distak, there is no debate: he chooses his charge and surrogate son, "Jacare."
As the video game-bound rematch begins, Mousasi is far more skilled on the feet. However, Distak quickly adapts to the wrestling game, taking Mousasi to the mat repeatedly. With the fight set on Pride rules, our competitive first round bounds past the six-minute mark. Every time Distak uses "Jacare" to slam Mousasi to the electronic mat, the room -- the real "Jacare" especially -- roar in approval.
Finally, eight minutes deep into the seesaw clash, Distak passes to side control on Mousasi, and goes for a kimura. It's the first time anyone has gone for a submission in the game since we've started playing; the room explodes in a frenzy of trying to explain how the submission controls work. Despite Mousasi's experience, Distak is able to perfectly manipulate the stamina meter and button-tapping. On screen, the digitized “Jacare” twists the digitized Mousasi's arm behind his head, eliciting the tap.
The entire room explodes. Distak quietly smiles, while "Jacare" celebrates as if he just knocked out Anderson Silva for the middleweight throne of the world.
"X-Gym!" yells Distak, crossing his arms into an X. It makes me wonder if Anderson Silva, an admitted gamer, picked up any tips from Distak.
While Mousasi opts to use himself, "Jacare" opts to use Dan Henderson in the game. When asked why he chose the former two-division Pride champion, he only shrugs.
The bout does not last long: Mousasi clearly has some practice, and completely hustles “Jacare” on the feet. The bout looks like a video game version of Wanderlei Silva-Vitor Belfort. The virtual Henderson ends up on his face, in the turtle position, with Mousasi bombing on his exposed head en route to a quick stoppage.
"Jacare" yells and stomps around in protest, while the room laughs and catcalls. Mousasi, true to form, smirks at his success. Then, he is challenged by an unlikely foe in Souza's trainer, Josuel Distak.
It's a rematch of sorts: in the finals of Dream's middleweight grand prix back in September 2008, Mousasi knocked "Jacare" out with a brutal upkick to win the tournament and become the promotion's first middleweight champion. Though Souza jokes and smiles with Mousasi, it seems the sting of losing to him two years ago it still very real.
In the early afternoon, we have a surprise for the fighters. They're going to get to sit down, relax, and play a bit of EA Sports MMA.
It's an interesting arrangement: with Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi and his protege Max "Payne" Martyniouk staying in Glendale, we'll be joined by the Dutch-Armenian and his understudy to play, as well.
The minute we sit down around the TV, the ever-boisterous "Jacare" challenges Mousasi to a match-up. Mousasi, in his perpetually-smirking way, nods and agrees.