The main event of the UFC on FUEL TV 2 fight card taking place today (Sat., April 14, 2012) at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, featured native son Alexander Gustafsson fighting in front of his hometown crowd for the very first time inside the Octagon opposite the returning Thiago Silva.
Gustafsson came into the bout as a fighter on the rise, a man widely regarded as the future of the light heavyweight division. In fact, many felt if he could win here, he should be in the discussion for a possible shot at Jon Jones.
As for Silva, he's been out of action for over a year thanks to a failed drug test. While that definitely put a black mark on his professional career, the time off was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed the Brazilian to properly heal from all the injuries he was working through.
So with all things equal on fight night, who was the better man?
That would be Gustafsson, who once again showed a great deal of improvement since the last time we saw him despite the fact that he couldn't finish the fight. He came close in the first round but Silva was game all throughout. It was a hard fought battle but one "The Mauler" deserved to win.
Bigger and better things forthcoming. Can't wait.
Silva immediately took the center of the cage and got aggressive. His punches didn't land, though, and Gustafsson was aware enough to reset.
And then the lanky Swede connected with a shot that put the Brazilian bomber down. It also opened a cut above Silva's eye. Still, he persevered and got back to his feet to continue the battle.
The crowd at this point was insane, exploding for every movement from Gustafsson. We're talking Paulo Thiago in Rio type atmosphere, folks.
Silva had climbed back into the fight by this time, however, and was back to pushing the action in the center of the cage. "The Mauler" wasn't afraid, though, and he continued to unleash sporadic shots that bothered his opponent just enough to keep him at bay.
The opening round came to an end with a startling reminder that Silva couldn't win if he continued to fight from outside.
Round two opened with a trip takedown attempt from Gustafsson and his bouncing back and forth between legs seemed almost like a taunt. Silva was baffled at how to handle his lanky foe.
Finally, Silva cut off the cage and landed a strong right hand that had the Swede briefly in trouble. The Brazilian kept coming strong but couldn't land enough follow up strikes to finish the job.
After 10 minutes, Gustafsson still appeared to be in control of the bout. He even punctuated that point with a front kick that smacked Silva straight across the face.
The third round was essentially a repeat of the first two. Gustafsson circling out and jumping in with offense while Silva chased him down and looked for the kill shot that would never come. Maybe this wasn't the performance to make Gustafsson a breakout star but his name should definitely be on the map by now.
Watch out, light heavyweights. This kid is scary good.