ULTIMATE fighting fanatic David Powell (@Powlo981) returns to share his views on the Alex “The Mauler” Gustafsson v Anthony “Rumble” Johnson clash in Stockholm, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Alexander Gustafsson v Anthony Johnson | Sunday 04.00 | BT Sport 1
Another week goes by and yet another top UFC card, and another top main event comes around, as Alex “The Mauler” Gustafsson takes on Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in a #1 contender light heavyweight showdown. The carrot? Well Sunday morning’s winner will have the daunting task of facing the best fighter on the planet and current champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.
For Gustafsson, this fight will be very much a case of getting back what was rightfully his; he was scheduled to face Jones in mid-2014 before an injury saw that bout postponed. Daniel Cormier stepped up to take his place but was beaten by a unanimous decision earlier this year.
Gustafsson has already fought Jones, in a Fight of the Year candidate back in 2013. In most cases, the Swede would have earned himself an immediate rematch with many believing The Mauler won. I wasn’t one of those but will the added pressure of a hometown contender fight get Gustafsson back where he feels he should be?
For Anthony Johnson, this is a different fight altogether for a whole manner of reasons. For example, not many men can lay claim to fighting in so many weight classes against such high level competition. However, after several years floating around the weights (welterweight up to heavyweight), Johnson has settled for a more natural weight at light heavyweight.
And the power he now possesses plus his all round game looks to be as on point, as ever, and that showed in his dominant win back in early 2014 against stand out wrestler Phil Davis. Can he add to an already amazing career turnaround and beat the hometown man on his own doorstep in Sweden?
It’s a tough fight to predict. Gustafsson has been in there with the very best; never looked phased and improved with every performance. But then the same could be said lately of Johnson. But I’m going to side with Gustafsson, who’ll be cheered on by an adoring Stockholm public.
Both fighters will have their moments in the opening rounds; I know Johnson has sledgehammers for hands and has the potential to put anyone asleep. He also boasts a great kicking game and is never afraid of wild high kicks to the body or head.
But Gustafsson is too good, in a number of areas. The Swede’s wresting base is exceptional for a non-North American, as he showed in taking Jon Jones down for the first time in his career. Gustafsson, while not wanting to rely on his chin, does have one of the best in MMA too.
The Mauler has some of the best boxing and footwork of all fighters in MMA. So I’m going to back him to withstand the early onslaught from Johnson and come away with the victory, although this battle could go the distance. With that in mind, Betfred’s 9/2 on a Gustafsson win by a decision or technical decision.
Gustafsson will take over the longer the fight goes on but I’m also going to have a nibble on the 17/1 chance from Paddy Power that the hometown man bags the victory in the final round of the five-round bout. As we know, Johnson’s had issues with cutting weight as well as his gas tank in the past.
Alexander Gustafsson v Anthony Johnson – Alexander Gustafsson to win by decision or technical decision (9/2 Betfred)
Alexander Gustafsson v Anthony Johnson – Alexander Gustafsson to win in Round 5 (17/1 Paddy Power)