UFC Headliner Alexander Gustafsson Living Out a Dream on Saturday in Sweden

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Vladimir Matyushenko, UFC 141 (James Law/HeavyMMA)

Gustafsson worried only about a win, not title contention

Since making his way into the UFC, Alexander Gustaffson has managed to make a relatively quiet climb up the light heavyweight divisional ladder.

After being handed the sole loss of his young career by fellow up-and-comer Phil Davis, “The Mauler” has rattled off four consecutive stoppage victories inside the Octagon. Of those wins, half came by submission with the other two being knockouts produced by his long range and brutal striking.

Unfortunately, the prospect label has a life expectancy and for Gustafsson, the time has come for him to either step up into the upper tier of the division or fall back into the pack. He will get the opportunity to prove himself as he not only makes his debut as a headliner of a UFC card, but does so as the organization makes its first stop in his home country of Sweden on Saturday for UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva.

“It feels great to headline a bout for the UFC,” Gustafsson told HeavyMMA. “It’s a dream come true and a big step for Swedish MMA. I’m very much looking forward to this fight.”

Standing in his way will be Brazilian powerhouse Thiago Silva. Despite coming off a yearlong suspension for a failed drug test, Silva stepped in as a late replacement for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and will face Gustafsson in the main event. Stylistically the two fighters couldn’t be more different, but the matchup is intriguing to Gustafsson.

“It’s going to be a great fight,” Gustafsson said. “It’s not only going to be a standup brawl, it is going to be a crazy fight. The striking will make the difference. I know Silva is going to bring it. He hits very hard and is a tough guy. I need to stay sharp, use my distance and my advantage will come in my striking. As far as style goes, I just do what I do and that makes me unique in that sense. Every fighter in this division has their own style, and that is what makes it interesting.”

Whether a victory puts him in the hunt for the light heavyweight title is a decision he leaves up to the UFC.

“I actually have no idea where I stand as far as title contention goes,” Gustaffson said. “I just take it one fight at a time and see what comes next after that.”