Yesterday, (March 8, 2014) top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson took on undefeated power striker Jimi Manuwa in the main event of UFC Fight Night 37 from O2 Arena in London, England.
After a narrow loss to longtime 205-pound champion Jon Jones at UFC 165, Gustafsson was looking to earn his second crack at UFC gold by defeating the heralded Manuwa.
Having fought most of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career fighting in London, "Poster Boy" was the hometown favorite. He had a chance to shock the world and become an immediate title contender in Great Britain.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but ultimately Gustafsson showed the reason he's a distinct cut above the rest of the 205-pound Top 10. Let's break down "Mauler's" destruction of the previously undefeated "Poster Boy."
To watch full Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa fight highlights right now click here.
The fight started with Manuwa landing a good low kick. Gustafsson responded with a low kick of his own, followed by a liver kick. Gustafsson shot for a takedown and got it. Manuwa went for an unsuccessful guillotine as he hit the mat, and then "Mauler" sought an armlock from half guard. Manuwa went into full guard as Gustafsson landed some short shorts.
When the fight returned to the feet, Gustafsson went for Manuwa's back. The final minute saw "Mauler" snapping kicks while "Poster Boy" scored a big hook to the body and a knee. Gustafsson landed a couple good punches to close out the first.
In the second frame Gustafsson pressed forward, only to be halted when he inadvertently poked Manuwa's eye. Manuwa came out strong after a short recovery period, landing big shots and strong kicks. "Mauler" responded with his world-class striking, landing a massive knee from the clinch and wobbling Manuwa with a flurry of pinpoint uppercuts and ground shots. Referee Marc Goddard ran in to stop the bout, signifying an impressive second round finish for "Mauler," who keeps his pivotal spot in line for a light heavyweight title shot.
Gustafsson immediately called out Jones, who will face Glover Teixeira for the belt at UFC 172 on April 26, 2014. And if "Bones" gets past Teixeira, company president Dana White confirmed at the post-fight press conference that a rematch with Gustafsson is all but guaranteed (read more details here). It could potentially be the biggest rematch in the history of the UFC 205-pound division, which is saying a lot considering the wars that fighters like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz went through.
The Swedish talent is undoubtedly one of the top mixed martial artists in the world and it could be just a matter of time before he has the belt wrapped around his waist.
Manuwa shouldn't lose too much positioning with the loss. It was his first one ever and he took on a huge challenge in Gustafsson. He landed some good shots in the second, but it was obvious that he needs to work on his wrestling. Gustafsson, although not known primarily for his takedowns, was largely able to neutralize Manuwa's thunderous knockout power by taking him to the canvas with ease. "Poster Boy" will get a step down in competition and provide a stiff test for most light heavyweights. A fight against Ryan Bader would make sense for him.
Alexander Gustafsson made sure his momentum didn't slip away with an impressive first round finish of Jimi Manuwa. Will we soon witness the long-awaited awaited rematch between "Mauler" and "Bones"?