Jimi Manuwa surprised Alexander Gustafsson isn't ducking him ahead of UFC London event on March 8

Copyright: Martin McNeil

"The Mauler" runs from no man!

Top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson thought he was fighting Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the main event of the promotion's next UFC "Fight Night" event at the O2 Arena in London, England, which takes place on March 8, 2014.

But when "Little Nog" got hurt, they instead offered him unbeaten 205-pound smasher Jimi Manuwa.

And he said yes.

That's something that came as a surprise to "Poster Boy," who was convinced "The Mauler" would turn the fight down to protect his spot in the division's pecking order, according to comments Manuwa made to Fighters Only:

"Alex is a huge test for me, but it is one I have long dreamed of. I'm ready to take this opportunity to climb up the light-heavyweight ladder and get closer to my goal of being a UFC champion. I asked for this fight and thought Alex would avoid me, but he is a true professional and I have great respect for him. [Gustafsson] knows my record and he knows how unpredictable every fight can be in the UFC. We've seen Silva, Jones and GSP all showing their vulnerability this year."

Anything can -- and usually does -- happen in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).

Manuwa (14-0) has been running roughshod over the light heavyweight division since his professional debut back in 2008. In fact, "Poster Boy" has finished all 14 of his wins, with 13 coming by way of knockout or technical knockout, including his victory over Ryan Jimmo last October in Manchester.

One more and he can take over for Gustafsson as the next big thing at 205 pounds.

Like his chances?

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