Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight veterans Alexander Gustafsson and Jan Blachowicz squared off last night (Sept. 3, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 93 inside Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany.
Gustafsson’s position in the division is uncertain. Though he entered this bout in the midst of a rough patch, he also put on some great performances in losing efforts. Still, the Swede very much needed to get back into the win column. Blachowicz was also in dire need of a strong win, as his UFC performances have been rather underwhelming since he stormed out of the gate with a first round knockout. In this match up, Blachowicz was hoping to show off all the skill that led him to success on the regional scene.
Blachowicz started the round well, leading the dance with hard combinations. Gustafsson tried to play his rangy game, stabbing at his opponent with jabs and hooks, but Blachowicz did a nice job of landing the later punches in his combo.
He caught Gustafsson circling away a few times.
However, the Swede was undeterred. He pushed a hard pace and looked for a few takedowns, finally landing an outside trip with about two minutes remaining. For the rest of the round, Gustafsson controlled his opponent from top position and landed some strong elbows.
It was likely enough to win him the round.
The fighters started the second round with some quick, dangerous exchanges. However, Gustafsson smartly switched things up, changing levels and landing his reactive double leg just about 20 seconds into the round.
For the rest of the round, Gustafsson hung around in Blachowicz’s full guard and dug into his skull with elbows. A couple times, Gustafsson stood up to kick the legs and dive back in with punches, but he completely controlled his opponent throughout.
It wasn’t devastating, but Gustafsson dominated the round.
Blachowicz was fairly tired in the third round, which helped Gustafsson landed some quick strikes and score a third takedown. For the most part, the final frame was a replay of the second, though a referee stand up forced Gustafsson to take him down once more.
Elbows, elbows, elbows.
This wasn’t a particularly dynamic victory, but it was the clear victory that Gustafsson required following his long layoff. He stuck to the script and battered his opponent, abusing him for the majority of three rounds.
While Gustafsson needed the win more than anything else, this wasn’t exactly the performance to inspire fighters to think rematches with Johnson, Cormier, or Jones are likely to go any different. Gustafsson was still a bit too hittable on his feet, as he reached for his punches then pulled away standing too tall.
On the bright side, Gustafsson’s shots were well-timed and executed smartly. He’s quite good at ducking under his opponent’s punches with a double leg, and it’s difficult to stop.
Next up for Gustafsson should be Ryan Bader.
The first round of this bout was perhaps the best Blachowicz has looked inside the Octagon, as his combinations were hard and effective. Staying in the pocket and throwing, Blachowicz landed some very hard shots on his opponent.
Unfortunately, Blachowicz’s bottom game continues to be woefully ineffective. On the regional scene. his occasional attempt to roll up on an armbar were effective, but here his style is predictable. By staying in the closed guard and occasionally hunting for submissions, Blachowicz allows his foe to control him, elbow him, and tire him out.
If Blachowicz learns to scramble up to his feet instead, things could go very differently.
Last night, Alexander Gustafsson utilized his wrestling skill to cruise to a decision victory. Is the Swede a future champion?
For complete UFC Fight Night 93 "Arlovski vs Barnett" results and play-by-play, click HERE!