UFC Fight Night 37 Preview

ufc_fn37The last time Alexander Gustafsson stepped into the octagon he was fighting for the Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 165 in Toronto. The fight was the built as the biggest in Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ career as he would take on the best fighter he has ever fought. Gustafsson was seen as the answer to the domination of Jones as he was the only fighter that was able to match what Jon Jones did best. Jones has always used his length to keep fighters on the outside and punish them on the feet. His reach has been his biggest asset in his fights and his championship reign but Alexander Gustafsson was the first fighter to enter the octagon with the same reach in his repertoire. Gustafsson would prove to be the test that many were talking about as he would push Jones further than anyone else. For the first two rounds Gustafsson would dominate the fight and bloody the champion making him look much worse than he had ever looked in any of his previous fights. Still that onslaught would not last long enough as the next three rounds would see Jon Jones come back to do just enough to win the fight. Gustafsson had been very impressive and by many people’s estimates had won the fight and the Light Heavyweight championship. In most situations that would mean that Gustafsson had earned a rematch to prove once and for all who deserved the title. That was not the case for the UFC Light Heavyweight division as another fighter had been waiting in the wings for a while. Instead of his rematch Gustafsson would take a back seat to Glover Teixeira who will fight Jon Jones for the title at UFC 172 on April 26th. With that in the way Gustafsson has been put on the back seat for the time being with one fight between him and his rematch. He still holds the #1 contender spot and will be watching UFC 172 closely as he hopes that main event will produce his next matchup. To get that opportunity Gustafsson will need to beat a young up and coming fighter that is looking to take the biggest opportunity he has received in his career to launch him into the title conversation. Jimi Manuwa will take on Gustafsson at home in London, England as the #11 ranked fighter in the division is looking to make an impact. The opportunity to fight the #1 contender does not come around often and Manuwa is hoping that he can take that opportunity. If he can beat Gustafsson his stock will immediately rise and although he may not earn an immediate title fight with a number of other fighters sitting ahead of him in the division but a title fight will not be far off. Both fighters like to fight on the feet but use different strategies to suit their skills. For Gustafsson his game will be about keeping the fight on the outside while tiring Manuwa out in order to finish the fight. Gustafsson can do just that on the feet, 3 KOs, or on the ground, 2 submissions. With a 79.0” inch reach and long legs on his 6’5” frame Gustafsson clearly has the advantage if Manuwa cannot get inside. That will be the strategy for Manuwa, 75.5” reach and stands 6’1”, as he will look to take away the reach advantage and get on the inside of the taller Gustafsson. If Manuwa can get inside he has the power to end the fight in one punch which is all he will need to earn the upset. Gustafsson has power as well but he is better at picking apart his opponents than earn that big one punch KO. Gustafsson has shown that he knows how to use his reach with a 15-2 record and the reputation of giving Jon Jones his toughest test. Still Manuwa has that power that cannot be taught and if he can catch Gustafsson the night could end quickly. It will be a tight fight that will most likely take place on the feet and although Manuwa has that power in his hands Gustafsson seems too skilled to let him get a decent shot. Gustafsson will take the win in a good fight that will come down to a unanimous decision and will give Gustafsson the title rematch he wanted after losing to Jones.

Before Gustafsson and Manuwa face off the crowd in London will be treated to what could be one of the most thrilling fights this year. The UFC will pit two fighters who have no interest in taking a fight to the mat as a stand-up war is sure to break out. Michael Johnson and Melvin Guillard will face off in a fight that will go a long way to determining the next step for both fighters. For Guillard the fight is a chance for him to prove that he still belongs in the UFC as he has had a rocky career over the last few years. Guillard would come into the UFC in 2005 as one of the most athletic fighters in the promotion. His speed and power were a combination almost never seen in the UFC but it would not translate to a lot of success. His best stretch would come in 2010 and 2011 when he won 5 straight fights but the rest of his time has been spent with few wins and plenty of losses. He has yet to recapture those winning ways that won him five straight fights and after a No Contest against Ross Pearson in October Guillard is trying to get a win on his record. Despite his struggles to stay on the winning path Guillard remains one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC and is sure to provide some excitement in this matchup. Meanwhile Michael Johnson is on the winning path after two impressive KO wins over Joe Lauzon and Gleison Tibau. Johnson is looking to take out a great striker in Guillard and put together a three fight win streak. He is looking for more than a win though as he is looking to earn another KO that will impress the UFC and move him further up the rankings. He has looked great in his last few fights and is hoping to show the UFC that he is ready for a serious title run but he needs to beat Guillard to get there. Both fighters want and need this win and both are great stand up fighters making this matchup one to seriously watch at UFC Fight Night 37.

 

Fight Card

Main Event:
Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson vs. Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa (UFC Fight Pass)

Main Card:
Michael “The Menace” Johnson vs. Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard (UFC Fight Pass)

Brad “One Punch” Pickett vs. Neil “2Tap” Seery (UFC Fight Pass)

Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson vs. Omari “Lakec” Akhmedov (UFC Fight Pass)

Undercard:
Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate vs. Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi (UFC Fight Pass)

Luke “The Bigslow” Barnatt vs. Mats Nilsson (UFC Fight Pass)

Bradley “Bear” Scott vs. Claudio “Mineiro” Henrique da Silva (UFC Fight Pass)

“Dangerous” David Grant vs. Roland Delorme (UFC Fight Pass)

Igor Araujo vs. Danny “The Cheesecake” Mitchell (UFC Fight Pass)

Phil “Billy” Harris vs. Louis “Goodnight” Gaudinot (UFC Fight Pass)

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