UFC on FOX 14 Preview

ufc_FOX14The UFC is on a roll through their first few events of 2015 as they continue to put on fights with top contenders. It all started with a light heavyweight title fight that Jon Jones won to retain his belt and continued with a superstar featherweight in Conor McGregor earning a title shot against Jose Aldo. Now those two things get matched together in the first fight of the year on FOX. That fight will feature two of the top contenders in the light heavyweight division as Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson fight for a chance at Jon Jones belt. It has been a long wait for many and one that continues as they have been waiting to see the Jones-Gustafsson rematch since 2013. That year was the most surprising in the light heavyweight division when Gustafsson pushed Jones as far as he had ever been pushed. The title fight between the two was the closest that jones had ever had and is still the closest fight he has ever been in. Gustafsson didn’t get the win in that fight but it was close enough that he earned a rematch a year later after another win. That rematch was cancelled after Gustafsson was injured and his chance at the belt was taken away. Now after a win against Jimi Manuwa, Gustafsson is only one win away from becoming the next title contender. Ranked as the #1 fighter in the division he has the spot that he needs to earn the title fight and if Jones returns to action on schedule, Gustafsson will have the first crack at his title when he gets back. First he will need to beat one of the hottest light heavyweight fighters in the UFC. Anthony Johnson is currently riding an eight fight win streak and has risen fast through the rankings in the division. As he continues to beat better fighters he is moving closer to earning a title fight against Jones and now he has the toughest test he has ever faced. A win against the top contender in the division is a good way to move this #3 ranked fighter into the title fight. It won’t be easy though as there will be a big crowd to face and all of them will be against the American. The UFC will take their show to Stockholm, Sweden where the crowd that is expected to get up to 40,000 at the Tele2 Arena will all be behind their biggest star ever. Gustafsson seems like the sure bet in this fight as he is the fighter that has remained among the best and the only fighter to truly challenge Jones. He is built a lot like the champion in that his is a tall and long fighter who uses his length to beat opponents. Having that reach proved to be the difference against Jones and he continues to use it to take the striking advantage in fights. If there is one issue that Gustafsson has it is that he is not a very well-rounded fighter with limited wrestling ability. There is not much concern for that aspect in this fight as Johnson has a wrestling background but is a stand-up fighter. With knockout power and some range of his own there is no doubt that he is up for the challenge of Gustafsson. The Swede won’t be able to keep Johnson on the outside like usual as the difference between reach is only one inch in this fight as it will come down to their striking ability to win this fight. It won’t be easy for either fighter but Gustafsson has a better variety of strikes than Johnson. For that reason Gustafsson takes the win with a unanimous decision and moves on to await the date that he gets to fight for the title again.

In the co-main event the ageless Dan Henderson will attempt to once again find his way to a title as he continues to fight. Henderson is one of the original legends in MMA starting his career in 1997 and moving through PRIDE before fighting in the UFC. At the age of 44 he is the oldest fighter on the UFC roster and if you ask him there is no slowing down in his future. That isn’t exactly true of the UFC’s opinion though as he may be a legend but his time is quickly running out. Henderson is 1-4 in his last five fights and if it wasn’t for his name recognition he would likely have been out of the UFC after his latest loss to Daniel Cormier in a title contender fight. The losses have led many to believe that Henderson’s time is done in the UFC and much like Chuck Liddell he should take the message and retire. The UFC is probably not far from telling him the same thing as they did with Liddell if only to protect his legend in the sport. The more fights that are added to the loss column, the shorter Henderson’s career will last. He tries to extend that career in another weight class after exhausting his opportunities in light heavyweight. He will drop to Middleweight for the first time since 2010 as he tries to get one more run at a title in before he retires. To get there though he will need to start off well against a top ranked middleweight looking for his own shot at a title after a long road. Gegard Mousasi has not been in the UFC for very long but began his MMA career over ten years ago. Now he is trying to gain some momentum in the UFC after going 2-2 in his first four fights in the UFC. It has been hard for the former Dream champion to get a foothold in the UFC and putting Henderson on his win column could help in doing just that. With a win he could move up from the #8 spot in the middleweight division as he attempts to start the climb towards a middleweight title shot. It should be a classic matchup between a wrestler, Henderson, against a boxer, Mousasi. Henderson is also a great striker with power in his hands but does not have the technique that Mousasi brings to the table. Both fighters are competing against something much tougher than their opponent, time. Mousasi may only be 29 years old but with a 10+ year career there may be limited time left while Henderson is trying to turn back the hands of time at 44. A win on FOX will help either of these fighters extend their time in the octagon and should move them one step closer to the title.

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