UFC Stockholm: Three Takeaways from Saturday’s Card

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Anthony Smith UFC Stockholm
Anthony Smith UFC Moncton Weigh-In Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

UFC Stockholm took place Saturday night, and there’s a lot to take away from the ESPN card.

UFC Stockholm took place Saturday night from the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. In the main event, it was a showdown of former UFC title challengers, with Anthony Smith submitting Alexander Gustafsson in the fourth round in what ended up being Gustafsson’s last bout. In the co-main, we saw the young Aleksander Rakic knocking out Jimi Manuwa via a stunning head kick. Here are some takeaways from the card in Sweden.

Anthony Smith is a Legit Light Heavyweight

After his defeat to Jon Jones at UFC 235, there was a lot of doubt about Smith’s potential at 205 pounds. While always looking the part in his wins over former champions Shogun Rua, and Rashad Evans, they are absolutely past their best days and aren’t that big of wins in 2018. His win over Volkan Oezdemir was good at the moment, however, hasn’t aged as well as Volkan has lost three fights in a row (including the Smith fight). So going into this fight with former light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson, Smith had lots to prove.

Anthony Smith then went out and erased all doubts about his greatness at 205 pounds. Smith did plenty of good work in rounds one and two, then faced adversity in round three as he got taken down by the much bigger Swede. However, Smith made it out of round three, and in round four, he got the fight to the ground. After giving out some punishing elbows, he secured the rear-naked choke, and the biggest win of his career.

Since moving to light heavyweight, Anthony Smith has four wins, all of them being finishes. All four of his opponents were either former champions or title challengers as well. While it’s not known if he will see Jon Jones again, Smith proved he is one of the elite at 205.

Jimi Manuwa Should Retire

It’s crazy to think that less than two years ago, Jimi Manuwa was arguably the number-one contender at 205. Manuwa was coming off of two incredible knockout wins over Ovince Saint Preux and Corey Anderson, and if he had been victorious at UFC 214, he would’ve received a title shot. Instead, Manuwa would get shockingly finished by Volkan Oezdemir in 42 seconds in the main card opener.

Things would only go downhill from there for the Brit. Manuwa would then lose to Jan Blachowicz in March of 2018 in a rematch of a fight that he dominated three years prior, then lost his next two fights via brutal knockout to Thiago Santos at UFC 231 and most recently Alexander Rakic at UFC Stockholm. The Rakic knockout was his third knockout loss in four fights.

Jimi Manuwa has been fighting in the Octagon since 2012, and in his prime was an incredible knockout machine with great boxing and good knockout power. However, that prime appears to have passed, and it may be time for the British fighter to hang up the gloves.

Alexander Gustafsson Had an Amazing Run

Alexander Gustafsson truly grew up in front of all of our eyes. Coming into the UFC at the age of 22, the Swedish fighter immediately made an impact by winning his first bout by knockout at UFC 105. Gustafsson would then face Phil Davis, coming up short by first-round submission. However, after that loss, Gus would not lose for almost four years.

Following the loss to Davis, Gustafsson went on a six-fight winning streak, defeating some excellent names along the way, such as Shogun Rua, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Matt Hamill. The Swede used this momentum to get a title shot against dominant champion Jon Jones. That fight would Jones turned out to be one of the greatest fights in the promotion’s history, nearly dethroning Jones in a fight that many thought Gustafsson should’ve won.

Gustafsson then went 1-1 over his next two, before getting a shot at light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. This fight also went on to be seen as one of the greatest in light heavyweight history, as Gustafsson nearly finished Cormier and nearly pulled out the victory. However, Cormier won the fight via split decision and retained his championship.

Following this fight at UFC 192, Gustafsson had some ups and downs. The main highlight of his last few fights being his incredibly dominant win over Glover Teixeira in Sweden in 2017. Gus used this win to get another title shot against Jones where he ultimately came up short, prior to losing his last fight against Anthony Smith at UFC Stockholm.

Despite never winning a UFC title, Gustafsson was a staple of the division for years, and was a tough fight for anyone. His legacy isn’t coming up short, his legacy is being the troubled kid from Sweden that grew up in front of our eyes over the course of a decade. From debuting at UFC 105 as a fresh-faced 23 year-old, to nearly defeating the untouchable Jon Jones at UFC 165, Gustafsson was fun the entire way.

Thank you, Alex.

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