UFC on FOX 14: Gustafsson vs. Johnson; Previewing the Main Card

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#3 Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (18-4-0) vs. #1 Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (16-2-0)

Gustafsson and Johnson are two heavy-hitting, exciting Light Heavyweight fighters that both have everything on the line in the main event at UFC on FOX 14 this Saturday night. Gustafsson is unique in that he is only fighter at LHW to truly test Jon Jones, going 5 rounds in their championship fight. Jones won the fight by Unanimous Decision, but MMA journalists and fans alike thought Gustafsson deserved the win, or at least a Split Decision. See the post fight carnage for yourself:

At 6’5″ tall, Gustafsson brings an element to the division that Jones had dominated; reach advantage. Gustafsson could get his shot for redemption, but first he’ll need to get through Anthony Johnson.

Anthony Johnson is in his second stint in the UFC after going through an aggravating weight struggle the first time around. Johnson at first fought at Welterweight, then Middleweight, and is now finally at Light Heavyweight. It has been known for many years that Johnson’s abilities in the octagon are impressive, but he just simply couldn’t make weight. After missing weight twice at Welterweight and then again at Middleweight, Dana White cut Johnson and proclaimed he was unprofessional.

After winning a number of fights in smaller fighting promotions, including one fight at Heavyweight, Johnson made his 2nd UFC debut and absolutely dominated Phil Davis. After steamrolling through Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, this is the only fight that makes sense for him. Dana and the UFC are so impressed with his comeback that they have officially made this fight a title-eliminator, with the winner getting Jon Jones next.

With so much on the line, this fight proves to be a must-see. It will be very interesting to see if Gustafsson decides to stand and exchange strikes with such a powerful striker, or if he will keep his distance. For Johnson, he could be one well placed punch from being in a UFC Championship fight.

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#8 Gegard Mousasi (35-5-2) vs. Dan “Hendo” Henderson (30-12-0)

At 44 years old, Dan Henderson has had one of the longest fighting careers in professional MMA history. He’s fought everyone from Wanderlei Silva and Fedor to Michael Bisping and Shogun Rua. Much like Donald Cerrone who fought on the last UFC card, there aren’t many fights that Hendo won’t take. At this point in his career and unranked, it seems like any one of these fights may be his last. After injury had to pull him out of a title fight against Jon Jones, he looks to put another notch on his resume against former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi.

Gegard Mousasi, a black belt in Judo, is 2-2 since entering the UFC. As much AS Dan Henderson needs to win this fight to avoid retirement, Gegard may need it to stay employed by the UFC.

Fans expected big things from the former Strikeforce champion, and it’s been somewhat as they’ve expected. He’s done not so well against the big time guys (Lyoto Machida and Jacare Sousa) but did well against guys he was favored to beat. He is heavily favored over Henderson -500 to Henderson’s +350, and rightly so. Mousasi at this point in his career should beat Henderson, but it won’t be easy. In Henderson’s 12 MMA losses he’s only been knocked out once.

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#7 Ryan “Darth” Bader (19-4-0) vs. #5 Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (13-2-0)

Phil Davis really impressed me with his win over Glover Teixeira. Glover came into that fight with only one loss to Jon Jones and Phil didn’t give him a chance to do anything. “Mr.Wonderful” is a fighter that has gotten a title-eliminator shot (losing to Rashad Evans) but has improved dramatically since. Although he lost to Anthony Johnson recently, Phil Davis can still build back up to another title shot, and beating Ryan Bader would be a great starting point.

Phil Davis uses a lot of grappling to win his fights, physically putting a toll on his opponents using a combination of jiu-jitsu and wrestling. Ryan Bader has a similar smothering style, using wrestling and heavy ground and pound to exhaust his opponents. Bader is coming off of three straight unanimous decisions and it’s for a reason. His style of out wrestling and applying pressure has been too overwhelming for his past opponents.

This fight has a chance of being a wrestling/grappling match because those are the two winning styles of both fighters. Sometimes in a fight where grappling and wrestling are dominant for each fighter though, they will stay standing and test each other’s striking ability. If it becomes a wrestling match the advantage is to Phil; if this becomes more of a stand up fight, Bader should keep the edge.

Look out for the HeavyMMA Live round-by-round fight post on Saturday, Jan. 24th @ 8PM EST!