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?

Further Reading: UFC on Fuel TV 2 Recap: Alexander Gustafsson beats Thiago Silva

Photo: Anton Gurevich

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/KeithFarrell/ KeithFarrell

    I think Bader is the perfect opponent for Gus, who’s strength is perhaps one of the rare remaining questions of Alexander’s skillset. That being said, I think Gus would not have a hard time against Bader.
    I think it is quite obvious he is a much better striker but obvious the wrestling aspect will be the biggest problem for Gus but I don’t think it will prove to hamper him too much – IMO Davis is a much wrestler than Bader, Davis had a hard time taking Gus down 2 years ago and since then Gus has been training his wrestling with David and according to him it has improved incomprehensibly.

    So hopefully Bader fights Gus soon (Bader just had first kid so might want time off) and if Gus wins then I would like to see him take on someone like Shogun or even the loser of the Jones Evans fight.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/KeithFarrell/ KeithFarrell

    If Bader isn’t available then the only other guys that I can think of right now are Bonnar and Lil Nog, both of them IMO are a step down though. I really think Forrest is at the perfect level to test Gustaffson but he is obviously tied up with Tito unfortunately.

    Anyone else got any ideas who Gus could fight if not Bader apart from my suggestions?
    I’m probably missing a good few.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/KeithFarrell/ KeithFarrell

    I love the LHWs and it is one of the most stacked divisions but I feel there is too much of a big gap from the elite fighters to the next level down.

    I think there is a big gap in level between Jones, Rashad, Shogun, Machida, Hendo against Davis, Bader, Gustaffson, Silva, Franklin.

    The only guys which are sort of in between are Rampage and Forrest as I feel sometimes they can be elite and other times not (Page more than Forrest).

    I’d love to see some of the Strikeforce LHWs come over to fill the gap, guys like King Mo, Feijao and Mousasi would help blur the lines between skill levels.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Bruce-Lee/ Bruce Lee

    To me, the key is that Gustafsson is not thrown into the cage with Jones too early. Let him mature. He is still improving.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/KeithFarrell/ KeithFarrell

    Big fan of this opinion, I don’t want them to put him on the Davis path and trow him top one of the top 3 or even top 5 straight away.

    Personally I would like to see Gus get two more fights, one against someone around Bader’s level and after that a top 5 ranked opponent, and then one more to secure his title shot.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/KeithFarrell/ KeithFarrell

    Just listened to a post-fight interview with Dana and he says he thinks Bader already has a fight coming up so he probably won’t fight Gus…. damn

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/DR3W/ DR3W

    Lyoto Machida

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/JTalbain/ JTalbain

    Machida. Lyoto lost against Jones, but was softened up a bit and cut by his ground and pound, then finished on his feet via submission, but he was making Jones look human before he got caught. Gustaffson has never shown the same tools that Jones used to defeat him, but to find out if he has a chance at beating Jones, one of two things needs to be true: he either needs to display some proficiency in the same tools Jones has himself, or he needs to show he has striking skills on par with Machida, the only person who thus far has been able to touch Jones. If he can’t do either, he’s not ready.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Ny2ut2id2nv/ ny2ut2id2nv

    Bader would be perfect for him. If victorious, throw him in there with Machida/Shogun and then give him a title shot.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Cranestyle/ cranestyle

    Machida, or a rematch with Davis.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Dudenicecock/ dudenicecock

    would davis and guff fight? theyre training together at Alliance now

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/TheRealDeal/ TheRealDeal

    Bader, definitely.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/HunterB/ HunterB

    Shogun vs Gustaf would be bad ass

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Entity/ Entity

    Gustafson will be fighting a totally diff beast in Shogun.
    Rua has far better footwork than Thiago and hits just as hard I would imagine. If it goes Rua vs Gus…I’ll have to take Shogun. That knee and cardio should be deadly by now.