Alexander Gustafsson stopped hometown native Jimi Manuwa in the second round to solidify his standing as the next line contender for Jon Jones’ UFC light-heavyweight belt with a second round stoppage at UFC Fight Night 37 in London.
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Gustafsson caught the smaller challenger with a knee against the cage which stunned him. The Mauler then swarmed, laumching strikes that made Manuwa crumple to the ground and forcing the referee to call the bout.
It was a good win for the Swede, who was expected to win impressively, given his memorable UFC 165 bout against the champion Jones last September in Toronto.
Manuwa suffered his first stoppage. The two main event participants nabbed fight of the night and performance of the night honors earning $50,000 USD extra, while Gustafsson and Gunnar Nelson’s submission took the performances of the night and an extra $50,000 USD each.
In a lacklustre main event, Michael Johnson defeated a timid Melvin Guillard via unanimous decision.
17-year veteran Cyrille Diabate (19-10-1), as expected, announced his retirement after his submission loss to Ilir Latifi. He elaborated in the post-fight press conference a range of plans from acting to gyms.
MMA Crossfire Expert Cassie Wiseman checks in with her thoughts:
UFC FIGHT NIGHT 37:
WINNER: GUNNAR NELSON VIA SUBMISSION.
Wiseman: Nelson showed that the improvement in his striking and when to turn on the power. Then dragging the fight to the mat where he had the dominant advantage to use ground-and-pound until a submission was possible. Fantastic show by Nelson.
BRAD PICKETT VS NEIL SEERY
WINNER: Brad Pickett via unanimous decision.
Wiseman: With this being the first fight for Pickett at 125, I expected him to be dehydrated, especially after seeing a few pictures of him before the weigh-ins. However, he showed that he has a chin, taking several aggressive strikes from Seery. His cardio was on par and ultimately it was his ability to score takedowns that gave him the fight via decision.
MICHAEL JOHNSON VS MELVIN GUILLARD
WINNER: MICHAEL JOHNSON VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Wiseman: This was the disappointment of the card. I expected a war between two highly skilled fighters, but what happened was simply Johnson fighting by himself. Guillard never put together a combination, he attempted to throw kicks, but kept second guessing himself. It was the worst performance I’ve seen from Guillard. Johnson, taking this fight on short notice, outscored Guillard every round and hurt a few times. Johnson admitted post fight that he was extremely frustrated with the fact that Guillard had talked so much yet didn’t show up at fight night. I share in his frustration.
ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON VS JIMI MANUWA
WINNER: ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON VIA TKO.
Wiseman: Did anyone expect Manuwa to win this fight? Seriously, the number-one contender versus a guy not even in the top-10? From the beginning, I thought this fight was a joke and Gustafsson’s handling of Manuwa only confirmed how I felt. The first round had them feeling each other out in the striking department before Gustafsson scored a takedown and the second round had Gustafsson knocking Manuwa out. The range and combination abilities of Gustafsson is at a completely different level. Manuwa needs to face some of the UFC top 10 before considering the #1 contender.