The UFC has scheduled it’s first ever show in Stockholm, Sweden for this coming April 14th, 2012. The show is called UFC on ‘FUEL TV 2′, and features a card stacked with European talent. The main event of the evening is a step up fight for Alexander Gustafsson, the ‘Mauler’ from Sweden who has worked his way to a 5-1 record with the UFC in the last 2 years. His opponent is the experienced and always dangerous ‘Lil Nog’ Rogerio Noguiera. It is a match where Noguiera will be looking to put together a fresh winning streak, as he beat Tito Ortiz in his last outing to stop a two fight slide. From the promotion’s perspective, Noguiera either keeps or passes the torch here, to the younger gun.
On paper it may seem like a tall order for Gustafsson, and I expect Noguiera to come in as a favorite to win this fight. Noguiera is 20-5 in his MMA career, a solid clip. Throughout his career he has benefited from training with top people, and he has honed a very solid BJJ / Boxer game that makes him dangerous on the feet and on the ground. It has been a while now that the concern over Noguiera is his mileage, that he may be getting long of tooth.
Because Gustafsson has a few intangibles working his way in this bout. Youth and energy are two of those advantages. But Gustafsson has run his record to 13-1 overall, he has a winner’s quality and an unorthodox style that mixes good ground and aggressive stand up. A friend of mine compared him to another Scandinavian stand out, Joachim Hansen.
We are going to find out about Gustafsson in April. Both men have a twelve week training camp to prepare for the fight, and despite Noguiera’s long history of top notch training partners, it would be wrong to think that Gustafsson will be at a disadvantage in preparation. Sweden has a long tradition of having the top JJ in Europe, going back to Jon Olave Einemo, Hansen and Rikard Anderson in the late 90′s. His standup is solid. Gustafsson is going to make a match out of this.
The only time Gustafsson has lost has been against stud wrestler Phil Davis, but that is a completely different style than Noguiera. I see Gustafsson gaining confidence and picking up the pace if he gets to the second round. I know it’s a long way out, but if Gustafsson is a big underdog, he may be worth putting some money out early!