Alexander Gustafsson has a new opponent in place for a UFC event in London, England. The Swedish star will now face hard-hitting Jimi Manuwa in the main event of a March 8 card at O2 arena. “The Mauler” was initially scheduled to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, but the veteran was forced to pull out because of a lingering back injury. It marked the second time that a fight between Gustafsson and “Lil Nog” had fallen through.
Gustafsson is fresh off a terrific performance at UFC 165, where he lost a close five-round decision against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. It was an epic contest and easily the toughest of Jones’s impressive career. A rematch is a high priority for the organization because of the buzz that the fight generated.
It’s very likely to happen if Gustafsson takes care of his business in March and Jones manages to record another successful defense when he battles hard-hitting challenger Glover Teixeira.
Obviously Manuwa will be looking to derail all of the rematch talk. The impressive striker is a perfect 14-0 with 13 knockouts. His most recent outing ended in strange fashion at UFC Fight Night 30 against Ryan Jimmo. Manuwa landed a solid knee to Jimmo’s head in round two, and the Canadian fighter fell to the ground after suffering a leg injury that halted the fight.
Manuwa is 3-0 in the Octagon with other victories against Kyle Kingsbury and Cyrille Diabate. “Poster Boy” will now get a serious step up in competition thanks to the Nogueira injury.
This shapes up as a tremendous matchup. Gustafsson is a solid striker with his lanky 6-foot-5 frame and has excellent movement. He’s been in with top-flight competition against Jones, Mauricio Rua and Phil Davis. Manuwa is a raw talent with tremendous power, and now he will get a chance to show whether he is indeed ready to enter the upper tier of the light heavyweight division. It’s quite the opportunity for the London-based fighter.
Gustafsson will be looking to lock up another title shot with a victory on March 8, while Manuwa will need to come up with the best performance of his career before what will be a partisan crowd.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports