Without Jon Jones (for now), the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight division needs guys like Alexander Gustafsson. After all, he's a two-time divisional title challenger who remains the closest fighter to nearly defeat Jones. For that reason, along with the fact that "The Mauler" is a darn pleasure to watch, Gustafsson will be a fighter to keep an eye on later today (Sat., Sept. 3, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 93 from Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany, as he takes on Polish submission specialist Jan Blachowicz in the co-main event.
In many regards, this may be Gustafsson's most important UFC fight to date. Currently riding a two-fight losing streak thanks to the likes of current 205-pound champion Daniel Cormier and knockout legend Anthony Johnson, the towering Swedish striker cannot afford another loss heading into 2017. He had never lost back-to-back fights before "DC" and "Rumble" stunned him inside of the Octagon, so a three-fight skid would absolutely cripple Gustafsson, who hinted towards a lack of motivation for fighting not too long ago.
On paper, Gustafsson should have a major advantage over Blachowicz, who has compiled a 19-5 professional record with seven of those victories coming by of submission. Despite Gustafsson being primarily a striker who can pick apart the best standup artists in the game today, he has one heck of a wrestling game. He may not use it offensively, but Gustafsson has shown the technique and tenacity to stuff takedowns from the the likes of Jones and Comrier. Shutting down Blachowicz over the span of three rounds (if it lasts that long) shouldn't be too much trouble for the 29-year-old. Once Gustafsson encases the action on the feet, Blachowicz will be forced to throw leather with one of the nastiest strikers around.
As someone who is always one triumphant performance away from contending for a title or competing for the right to, Gustafsson needs to capture a win at UFC Fight Night 93. He's clearly one of the very best 205-pound fighters on the planet and a well-rounded contender who would have won UFC gold if he didn't compete in the same era as two of the division's all-time best. If he can finish Blachowicz in devastating fashion later today, Gustafsson will be one step closer to regaining his championship potential entering next year.
Remember MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 93 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET, before the Fight Pass main card start time at 3 p.m. ET.