When Alexander Gustafsson steps into the octagon opposite Jimi Manuwa, he will have little to prove. Ending up on the wrong end of a controversial decision in his last bout, Gustafsson pushed the once thought unbeatable Jon Jones to his limits. Fight fans were calling for an immediate rematch, which didn’t happen. Now Gustafsson must fight an opponent that offers no reward in victory and the loss of everything in defeat.
Gustafsson has been paired with Manuwa (14-0, 3-0 in the UFC) in Saturday’s main event. There is absolutely no disrespect to Manuwa, who has finished 13 of his opponents by KO/TKO and one by submission, but he didn’t deserve this fight based solely on his resume. The location of the event had everything to do with it.
Though he is undefeated and has finished all of his fights in the first two rounds, Manuwa has done a good job of dispensing of mediocre opponents. In the UFC, his toughest opponent has been either Ryan Jimmo or Kyle Kingsbury. Does Manuwa have a shot at beating Gustafsson? Yes, but it will be a puncher’s chance.
If Gustafsson wins this fight, it really won’t prove much on his end. Everyone expects him to win and Manuwa doesn’t have enough notoriety to legitimately push Gustafsson closer to a title rematch (though it still could based on the state of the division). If Gustafsson were to lose, he would lose any hope of gaining a title shot in the foreseeable future. He would also give Manuwa a ticket to contender status and a chance to fight more contenders.