Will Alexander Gustafsson be the next UFC Light Heavyweight Champion?

 UFC Light Heavyweight Gustafsson

UFC Light Heavyweight Gustafsson

At today’s UFC fight night Swedish star Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson proved that he is the one of the most talented light heavyweights in a stacked division. Gustafsson used his reach advantage, speed, and unpredictable striking ability to defeat 37-year-old Glover Teixeira via 5th round KO to defend his #1 ranking in his home country. He put on a fairly dominant display throughout the fight end route to defeating #2 ranked Glover Teixeira. Credit to Teixeira for standing with Gustafsson and taking a lot of shots. Gustafsson’s performance was impressive but his next opponent should be more challenging than the aging Teixeira (who also had a fairly recent 1st round TKO against Anthony Johnson). Gustafsson will almost certainly face the winner of Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones for the light heavyweight championship. A fight between him and either Cormier or Jones is very exciting. Gustafsson has had fantastic and close bouts with both men.

Who is the better matchup for Gustafsson?

            Glover Teixeira came out with the right strategy trying to cut off the cage and landing an early takedown. Teixeira couldn’t keep “The Mauler” grounded after the takedown and Gustafsson took over from that point by using his striking ability. Cormier effectively used the same strategy as Teixeira in his fight versus Gustafsson at UFC 192. Cormier scored a similar takedown as Teixeira but was able to work his ground game following the takedown and landed some effective shots. Cormier won the fight via split decision and was pushed to the limit by the Swedish fighter. Daniel Cormier has a differing style from Gustafsson. DC is a former Olympic wrestler with a good ground game while still being a powerful striker. If Gustafsson is to face Cormier his keys to winning the rematch would be to using his quickness, his much longer reach, staying off the ground, and staying active. Gustafsson often used the size of the cage to his advantage against Teixeira. Gustafsson kept using a type of hit and run offense. He would land some strikes and then run away and reset in the middle of the octagon. Gustafsson should be carefully doing this too often because he turns his back to his opponent while doing so. He was able to utilize this technique a lot against Teixeira who is not the quickest fighter in the division to say the least.

I believe if he uses the aforementioned keys then Gustafsson will have a good chance against Cormier. Jon Jones on the other hand is the more difficult matchup. At UFC 165 Bones defeated Gustafsson by unanimous decision but this was almost 4 years ago and the Swedish fighter has developed a lot since then. Jones and Gustafsson have similar styles which could prove difficult for the latter. Gustafsson (6' 5") will only have a one-inch height advantage and has a shorter reach by 5 inches due to Jones insane 84’’ reach. Also, Gustafsson claims that he is the fastest light heavyweight but Jones may be the one man who can give him a run for his money.

In conclusion, the Swedish phenom will have a tough match up in his next fight but Cormier offers a slightly better matchup. Gustafsson will need to use his vast arsenal of strikes such as his lightning quick uppercut and deadly knees in order to defeat either Cormier or Jones to become the champion. Gustafsson should have a lot of scouting to do come UFC 214, as long as Jones vs Cormier 2 finally happens.

Nick Kallas