So Alexander Gustafsson is the UFC’s latest sweetheart at 205 lbs, with his win over tough Thiago Silva in his hometown of Stockholm, Sweden this past weekend. Dana White spewed his usual post fight spin, talking about the potential the UFC brass sees in the big Swede. Granted, the kid has looked good, and he is a long and menacing striker, but before anyone calls him ‘phenom’ or anything like that, let’s look at what we really have here. White talked about a step up in competition, and certainly Gustafsson has worked his way to sit near the top of the division. But is he heading to deep waters?
Of course it isn’t 100 percent fair to say he lost to Phil Davis, and Phil Davis was recently exposed by the top tier, but there are a few legit questions that can come from this scenario.
So Dana wants to see him operate against a top 5 guy. Put him in with Lyoto Machida. That still won’t answer all the questions, but it will let us see him against a top tier guy who is an unorthodox striker. Gustafsson would still have a reach advantage but some of his size and length would be negated.
The other big question is how will he do against a wrestler? This would have been a good time to have a still active Randy Couture, about 5-6 years ago’s vintage. Because losing to Phil Davis and being controlled by a wrestler, that is where I want to see Gustafsson answer questions.
Is Ryan Bader a solid enough wrestler to test Gustafsson? Or if Rashad Evans falls to Jon Jones this upcoming UFC, could we get a Gustafsson versus Evans fight? These are the types of fights that Gustafsson needs to keep progressing as a fighter.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Gustafsson, and it is good for the sport that the UFC is developing a top tier guy from among their European talent. Unlike British head honcho Michael Bisping, Gustafsson is actually a likeable guy, and he could be big. But this is not the time to baby him and bring him along against maudlin opposition. Throw him into the fire.