Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) invaded Stockholm, Sweden last night (Sat., June 1, 2019) to stage UFC Fight Night 153 from inside Ericsson Globe Arena, which featured a Light Heavyweight showdown that saw Anthony Smith submit Alexander Gustafsson with a rear-naked choke (recap here). In the co-main event, Aleksandar Rakic pulled off an upset himself after knocking out Jimi Manuwa in under a minute (highlights).
Biggest Winner: Anthony Smith
“Lionheart” was determined to take his frustration out on someone after an “embarrassing” output against Jon Jones, and he did just that by submitting Gustafffson in the fourth round in “Mauler’s” own backyard. After three rounds of back and forth action, Anthony was able to catch Alex slipping with a lazy takedown attempt. That allowed him to get into position to attempt a rear-naked choke. Gustafsson tried his hardest to shake off Smith, but a determined “Lionheart” hung on for quite some time until he was able to sink it in tight and force a stoppage.
While the win won’t put him right back into a title shot, it does put him close to the top of a short list and will likely insert him into the No. 1 ranking at 205 pounds. One more impressive win like this could very well earn Smith an opportunity to rematch “Bones” as early as next year, assuming Jon takes out Thiago Santos. Should Thiago upset “Bones,” Smith could earn a rematch against the Brazilian bomber and a chance to get that loss back.
Runner Up: Aleksandar Rakic
The Light Heavyweight division just keeps getting better by the day with up-and-coming talent, as the 27-year old Rakic put everyone on notice as a legit contender following his spectacular knockout win over Manuwa.
That is now three straight wins inside the Octagon and 11 straight overall. With longtime veterans like Daniel Cormier and Gustafsson on their way out, Rakic may have earned himself a spot in the top 15 and joins a core of surging contenders that includes Dominick Reyes, Thiago Santos, Anthony Smith and Johnny Walker, who are on the prowl and determined to get at “Bones.” Aleksandar still has a ways to go before he becomes a title contender, but he shows promise and will be a threat to anyone at 205 pounds.
Biggest Loser: Jimi Manuwa
We will talk about Alexander Gustafsson suffering his second straight defeat -- which prompted his retirement -- in another piece. For now were going to talk about Manuwa, who suffered his fourth straight defeat after getting slept by Rakic early. After starting his MMA career at 14-0, including winning his first three fights inside the Octagon, Jimi was poised to be a legit title contender at 205 pounds. Since then, he has gone 3-6, including dropping his last four fights, three via knockout.
It’s hard to pinpoint where it all went downhill for “Poster Boy,” but facing the best-of-the-best night in and night out may have a lot to do with it. Now, Manuwa has plenty of think about moving forward, including a potential drop own to Middleweight for a new lease on his combat life. He has the heavy hands to get the job done, he just needs to go back to the drawing board and find what got him to the big show to begin with.
For complete UFC Stockholm results and coverage click here.