Two of the UFC’s top Light Heavyweights will tangle on June 1st in Stockholm, Sweden when Alexander Gustafsson battles Anthony Smith on June 1st. The bout is set to headline UFC Fight Night from Sweden as the two veteran fighters aim for victory. A victory could put one of the two mixed martial arts experts in line to challenge current Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
Gustafsson will have his countrymen behind him during the bout which could give the fighter an edge over Smith. Gustafsson’s previous UFC fight in Sweden saw him defeat Glover Teixeira by knockout in the fifth round in 2017.
Can the “The Mauler” knockout Smith in his homeland or will the American known as “Lionheart” rack up his 32nd career mixed martial arts win?
The Road to Stockholm
UFC Fight Night will be a chance for both fighters to get back to winning ways. Gustafsson and Smith both lost their previous fights with both coincidentally taking place against Jon Jones just over two months apart.
Gustafsson’s last bout was on December 29th of last year as he failed to win the Light Heavyweight Championship thanks to a third round TKO. Smith’s bout against Jones went to the judges’ decision after he and Jones battled for five rounds without a winner.
Smith does have far more experience than Gustafsson. The American has tallied a 31-14 record in mixed martial arts. Smith had won three consecutive fights prior to his title bout against Jones. Now, he is fighting to get another shot at the Light Heavyweight Championship. “Lionheart” will need a good performance against Gustafsson to overcome the Swede in Stockholm.
Gustafsson may have less experience than his opponent, but he has built a solid 18-5 mixed martial artist record. “The Mauler” has had some big-time fights during his decade in UFC. Although he is yet to win a championship, Gustafsson has battled Jones on two occasions for Light Heavyweight Championship. Their 2013 title fight was named Fight of the Year.
Both fighters are back to square one in terms of gaining a championship bout. A loss could eliminate one of the two from a title fight for some time.
The fighters – Alexander Gustafsson
Gustafsson is considered by many as one of the greatest UFC Light Heavyweights of all-time. It is a massive claim, but he has put on some exciting fights over the last 10 years. “The Mauler” has lost three Light Heavyweight Championship matches in his career which makes one think he buckles under pressure. Despite his loss last December to Jones, the UFC still has Gustafsson ranked as the No. 2 Light Heavyweight.
“The Mauler” has recorded 11 career wins by knockout along with three first round finishes. Smith will need to watch out for the Swede’s fast fight starts. Gustafsson is known more for his striking than his grappling and submission work, although he is competent in both.
Just three of his victories in the UFC have come from submission. Meanwhile, 61% of his wins have come thanks to knockout or TKO. Gustafsson favours strikes to the head with 73% of his strikes landing in the region.
The fighters – Anthony Smith
Smith is currently billed as UFC’s No. 4 Light Heavyweight following his March loss to Jones. It is a quick turnaround for the American who will battle Gustafsson three months after his title loss.
Like Gustafsson, Smith has recorded three career UFC first round finishes. The two fighters could put on an exciting opening round when they meet with fireworks going off around the octagon.
Smith has racked up 18 wins by knockout and like Gustafsson, he favours strikes over grappling. However, the difference between the fighters could be on the mat. Smith has 11 career submission wins which accounts for 35% of his all-time UFC victories. If he can get Gustafsson on the mat, he could get the Swede to tap.
UFC Fight Night – Prediction: Gustafsson vs. Smith
Since joining UFC, Smith has been defeated by knockout due to punches just once. The American is well-conditioned and a tenacious fighter. Although he will be an underdog in Sweden, he has the chance to defeat the more favoured Gustafsson if the fight goes to the mat.
Although Gustafsson prefers to strike, he can grapple and could lure Smith into a false sense of security in the octagon. Gustafsson has never lost by knockout in his UFC career. Despite being two years older than Smith, Gustafsson has less experience. It shouldn’t play a part in the bout as Gustafsson has fought in some big-time matches in his career.
Smith was reluctant to accept a fight against Gustafsson. He signed the contract just days after losing to Jones in March. June’s bout will mark Smith’s sixth fight in less than 18 months. Gustafsson will have had more time to prepare and it should lend to him defeating the American on home soil.
Winner: Gustafsson by decision
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