It seems as if retired life isn’t suiting Alexander Gustafsson and he is set for a return to the UFC on the July 25th card on Fight Island. As we previously told you, MMA retirement is not forever and in that article, we suggested Gustafsson may unretire soon. The three-time light heavyweight title contender is this time set to return at heavyweight, taking on former champion, Fabricio Werdum.
These two well-known veterans of the game have 57 combined professional bouts between them. Gustafsson has an impressive record of 18-6, where Werdum holds a record of 23-9-1.
Recently, however, neither man has been in winning form. The last win for either of these men was way back in November 2017, when Werdum beat Marcin Tybura by unanimous decision. Since then he was TKO’d by Alexander Volkov in London, was popped for PED use, returned and lost a split decision to Aleksei Olenik. In his return fight at UFC 249 he didn’t look good. Slow, laboured punches lead to him being dominated and very nearly finished in the first round. It will be five years ago this month since Werdum won the heavyweight title and he has looked a shadow of his former self since.
Alexander Gustafsson has also been out of form. He lost to Jon Jones at UFC 232 and then lost to Anthony Smith in his home country of Sweden. Following the Smith defeat, Gustafsson placed his gloves in the octagon. He declared ‘The show is over‘ and seemingly retired. Many did believe that ‘The Mauler’ still has a lot left in the tank, so a return was inevitable.
On paper, this is a classic striker vs grappler match-up. Alexander Gustafsson will be making his heavyweight debut, so I doubt we will see as much movement as usual from him. Despite this, we should expect his boxing to be just as slick as it usually is. At 6’5, he’s unlikely to be undersized at heavyweight and in a fairly shallow division, we could see him rise in the rankings quickly.
Werdum is elite when it comes to his ground game. With 11 submission victories, he has transitioned his Jiu-Jitsu skills to MMA better than almost anyone. He has very basic stand-up skills, using tit to crash into his opponents and clinch them. Without a knockout since 2014, he is far from dangerous on the feet.
When Werdum faced Alexander Volkov in London, he was largely outclassed on the feet, couldn’t get the fight down to the mat and couldn’t pin his man down. This lead to him being knocked out in the fourth round. With a takedown defence of 85%, Alexander Gustafsson is a difficult man to get down. This fight very well could go the same way.
How will this fight plat out ultimately? You’ll have to tune into Fight Island on July 25th to find out.
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