UFC on Fuel TV 2 aftermath: Who’s next for Alexander Gustafsson?
The dust has settled on UFC on Fuel TV 2, and now many questions arise about where Alexander Gustafsson will go from here. No doubt a promising prospect with title fights on the horizon, just how ready is he for the biggest stage at this point of his career? His decision victory over Thiago Silva in Stockholm was a one-sided affair. Gustafsson beat arguably the best opponent of his young career handily in Sweden, but there are seemingly many detractors to his performance.
Those arguing for Gustafsson say that he made Thiago Silva look silly, always dancing in and out of the stalking Brazilian’s range. He fired quick punches at Silva, peppering him while avoiding taking any real damage. He used effective kicks to score points, and maximized the effectiveness of his range advantage. It can be argued that the win cemented Gustafsson near the top of the UFC Light Heavyweight division, and some would say he is ready for a title shot in the near future. There is a fair amount of certainty that Gustafsson will find himself in this enviable position someday.
However, those arguing against Gustafsson’s shot at the top say that while Thiago Silva is always a game opponent, he was indeed coming off of a layoff that spanned over a year. Ring rust could have, and most likely did, play a factor in his loss. Some argue that Gustafsson implemented a gameplan that was similar to that of Carlos Condit‘s when he beat Nick Diaz for the Interim Welterweight championship. They say he played it safe and fought not to lose rather than to win. Thiago Silva‘s face showed damage that would argue otherwise. There are also questions about Gustafsson’s ground game, as it has not been showcased much as of late.
All in all, Gustafsson put on a performance that was masterful, in that he executed a gameplan with precise, crisp striking and stayed out of the pocket of the known headhunter Silva. Does Gustafsson deserve to be put on the fast track towards the next title shot? His only loss was to Phil Davis in 2010, and while he fought off many takedowns valiantly, he ultimately succumbed to an anaconda choke on the ground. The fact that Rashad Evans manhandled Davis would suggest that Gustafsson’s wrestling is not quite championship caliber yet. Perhaps Gustafsson should fight against a wrestler like Ryan Bader in his next bout, or maybe Mauricio “Shogun” Rua would be a good gauge of his current skill level. The sky is the limit for this young fighter from Sweden, who will be his next test?
Photo: Anton Gurevich