Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa Booked For London

Rising UFC light-heavyweight star Jimi Manuwa has been both blessed and cursed at the same time, by the promotion.

Today the UFC has announced that the six foot, 205-pound British fighter, has been booked as the (scratch) replacement opponent to Alexander Gustafsson, at the UFC’s March 8 event at London’s O2 Arena.

The booking is a blessing for Manuwa in the sense that the 33 year old “Poster Boy” has only been in the UFC 14 months, has only three fights and wins to his credit in the promotion, and more importantly, is unranked within his division.

Truly, this fight is manna from heaven for Manuwa and an unbelievable opportunity to take a massive leap in the light-heavyweight division. And not only that, but to win this fight would most likely garner him the same benefit it would Gustafsson, and that’s a title shot.

Of course, the curse of the booking is quite literally who it’s against; Alexander Gustafsson.

“The Mauler” is a heck of a step up in talent for the Poster Boy and at 6’5”, defeating the taller and highly mobile, skilled and tough Swede, won’t be easy. Further, as Manuwa relies so much on his stand-up game and KO power to win his matches, he might be in some trouble Gustafsson, as the Mauler has never been KO’d.    

Further still, Poster Boy will be going up against a fighter that has ever improving wrestling skills and a solid ground game. As such, Gustafsson won’t be timid about taking the fight to the ground, should he wish or feel the need.  

As to whether or not Manuwa deserves or has earned the fight, it could be argued both ways.

Yes, Poster Boy has an impressive record, sitting at 14 & 0 professionally and with an astonishing 100% finishing rate; 13 KO / TKO & 1 submission. However, he’s beaten no one of particular note at 205 and by any reasonable account, has not earned a fight with the number one ranked Gustafsson.

That said, he’s a proven finisher, he won’t look out of place in the ring with Gustafsson and as he’s a hometown boy, it’s an easy fight to sell to the British fans. More to the point, as the UFC needs a replacement for the injured Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, a local fighter such a Manuwa makes for a great selection. Again, it’s an easy fight to sell.

Beyond that, it’s a fight that’s low enough down the rankings, that it shouldn’t prove too much of a challenge to Gustafsson, thus (hopefully) securing the UFC’s prized Jones / Gustafsson re-match, possibilities. However, should Manuwa beat Alexander he’ll prove just how good he really is, and that’s something that the UFC probably wouldn’t mind seeing demonstrated. Also, as Manuwa can afford a loss to the Mauler, this really does become a win / win situation for all parties concerned.

Finally, the match maintains the UFC’s policy of trying to put on the most exciting fights that they can and ones the fans want to see. Based on that criteria and given that a lot of fans have been impressed with Jimi Manuwa’s power and would probably like to see a Gustafsson / Manuwa bout, it would be easy to believe, that all things considered, that fans will welcome the news of this match, and that few will question whether or not the Poster Boy earned it. And of course, wouldn’t it be interesting if Manuwa could accomplish that which Jon Jones could not.

Outer Photo: Tom Szczerbowski for USA TODAY Sports 



  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Enjoylife321/ enjoylife321

    HOLY SH-IT BRIAN !

    Dana spoke about trying to get him a big fight next but this fight is more than a big fight for Manuwa. I didn't see this coming.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Brian-Cox/ Brian Cox

      Yeah, I'd agree with that Enjoy. No one saw this coming.

      • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Enjoylife321/ enjoylife321

        I was expecting him to break in to the top ten, not be given the no 1 or 2 ranked guy…..I would of thought someone like Thiago Silva or Fabio Maldonado

        • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Enjoylife321/ enjoylife321

          would be Manuwa next opponent

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

        Jones is probably like, sh*t

      • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Thexperience1/ thexperience1

        I saw this coming when Lil Nog pulled out… cause Manuwa has some hype and he was pretty much the only one available that many any kind of sense other than DC (whom opted not to fight abroad for his LHW debut)… oh and just for the record i got Manuwa beating Gus by KO/TKO in the first round (2nd round if Gus is lucky).

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

          I seriously doubt Manuwa has much of a chance, let alone win by ko. Gustafsson has shown a good chin in the past, and has faced much higher ranked fighters

          • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Thexperience1/ thexperience1

            @MagicMMA… you must not know a lot about Manuwa!
            You do realize his record is 14-0 with 14 finishes (13 of which by KO/TKO and 1 sub). All in the 1st or 2nd round! He is a very POWERFUL striker. Gus can't hang with Manuwa on the feet. His only chance is on the ground and Manuwa is no walk in the park down there either.

        • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Enjoylife321/ enjoylife321

          @Experience…You're the first lowkicker to throw your weight behind the newcomer…Big call KO/TKO in first round.

          • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Thexperience1/ thexperience1

            @Enjoy… yes cause i just think it's a very bad match up for Gus style wise. Manuwa is faster and stronger and has more powerful striking. Sure Gus is a little more technical but I don't think it will make a difference. Manuwa can take Gus's shots, I doubt Gus can take Manuwa's. I don't know if you've watched any of Manuwa's old tape… naysayers might wanna do that! Lol..

    • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Just-Scrapping/ Just Scrapping

      Jimi who?

      has this guy been on a main card before?

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

    COMPLETE bull, COMPLETE. There's no WAY these two should be fighting each-other, if Manuwa wins, then what? He's next in line for the title fight? Awful. Perhaps the UFC needs more competitors in this division, but Gustafson deserved immediate rematch, he isn't a gatekeeper…. I guess they are protecting Jones a bit….

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

      I agree man. The UFC has handed out rematches like Halloween candy, but now all of a sudden it's "h3ll no to Gus for a rematch. The UFC money machine is alive and well printing profitable matches. They're the IMF of MMA.

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

        Bones is carrying the ufc brand. If he loses, other promotions gain ground. They want to preserve their champion/brand. Funny thing is they're losing credibility

    • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Thexperience1/ thexperience1

      If Manuwa wins (or i should say WHEN he wins) he'll probably have to fight someone else before he gets a title shot. However if he gets a title shot after beating Gus, i wouldnt be mad either. He's 14-0 with 14 finishes! If he adds Gus to that list of finishes, it's hard to argue that man deserves a shot! Just saying….

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

    Truth is LHW has nothing else to offer….there is Jones, Teixeira, Gus and Cormier if he can make the weight …. Looking very very shallow this division…..Jones destroyed everyone else.

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

      Hendo is always a go-to-guy. Dan's wanted that fight. But not too sure how that would workout unless he used more wrestling and got inside.

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

    If Manuwa destroys Gus, maybe thats payback for bashing the UFC's matchmaking,,,,hmmm lol

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

    I don't like it. Teixeira or Cormier would have been a better choice for Gus.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Enjoylife321/ enjoylife321

      This whole ranking system is meaningless if guys outside the top ten are catapaulted into top level matchups…

    • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Thexperience1/ thexperience1

      Those 2 were not an option, so they made the fight that was available. Makes perfect sense to me.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Akieyugames/ akieyugames

    premadonna jones is not going to be furious, gus is not going to fight his "top 4" men.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Nimbleweed/ nimbleweed

    Smells like Horse 'Manuwa'…

    I called this on the previous Manuwa post… My tongue was also admittedly stuffed firmly in my cheek!