The UFC rankings haven’t received too much praise since their inception last year with some questionable placements of fighters who have received perhaps too high or low a sport given their recent competition.
For UFC light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson, however, a #1 spot at 205-pounds and #14 spot pound-for-pound is well deserved, especially after dispatching Jimi Manuwa this past Saturday at UFC Fight night: London.
He knocked Manuwa out in the second round after a flush knee buckled his knees. He fell to the ground chest first and Gustafsson dropped two hard hammer fists on him, as Manuwa rolled, to seal the deal.
He let out several triumphant screams after a bout that raised his stock even more. Manuwa was a proven finisher with 14 wins on his undefeated record, all of which were finishes. While Manuwa still hasn’t been out of the second round, he was given his first loss.
The win ensured that Gustafsson secured a title shot with the win agains the victor of an April title bout between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira.
The win also stood as a crucial stepping stone for the Swede’s career. After a razor-thin decision loss to Jones back in September, a disenchanted Gustafsson worked to put the bitter loss behind him to return to the Octagon with a deep fire, fueled by the potential chance to avenge a loss to Jones that some don’t even view as such.
Gustafsson’s performance Saturday was nearly flawless as he negated the striking of Manuwa and mixed his own boxing with slick takedowns and some really nice clinch work to stay a step ahead of Gustafsson.
Before this fight, I entertained the idea of this being Manuwa’s to lose. I thought that a loss to Gustafsson wouldn’t be so bad given his pedigree. But that loss would have to be one that Manuwa could have felt better about if he weren’t blown out by Gustafsson. Instead, Gustafsson showed that he was ready for another title shot, not by beating another top-five opponent. But in dominating a dangerous and touted prospect that he couldn’t afford to lose against if he wish to one day take another crack at Jones.
Speaking of Jones, even if the UFC light heavyweight champ loses his belt against Teixeira, I would still favor a fight between him and Gustafsson for a title eliminator if those circumstances are met. Regardless, we are living in a special time with a contender in Gustafsson, who presents a special challenge to any would-be opponent.
Don’t forget to checkout our our breakdown of Alexander Gustafsson’s dominant performance over Jimi Manuwa here!
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 37 visit SciFighting.com