After a long layoff that saw the UFC inactive in March except for their reality TV shows, the world’s premiere MMA company returns tomorrow with their ’UFC on FUEL TV 2′ card coming direct from Stockholm, Sweden. The card’s main event features Swede Alexander Gustafsson taking on Brazilian Thiago Silva in a battle at Lightheavyweight. Silva is a replacement for the injured Rogerio Noguiera, and in ways may represent a tougher fight for Gustafsson. Also featured on the card is Brian Stann, who takes on retread Alessio Sakara. Veteran Dennis Siver will also be trying his hand at making the Featherweight limit of 146 lbs, taking on Diego Nunez.
Thiago Silva is likely a whole different animal than Rogerio Noguiera would have been for Gustafsson. In Noguiera, Gustafsson was getting a veteran fighter with name recognition, and one who was thought by many experts to be getting long in the tooth. Not only has Noguiera been in a few wars, he has been around for a long time as well, and the matchup with Gustafsson had the feel of a ‘passing the torch’ match from a veteran to a younger and hungrier fighter.
Silva, on the other hand, is coming off a suspension for problems with his samples undergoing drug testing, and he has sat out all of 2011. Though ring rust is always a factor, Gustafsson is now facing an athlete in his prime whose only losses in MMA are to ‘top of the food chain’ guys in Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. Silva has gotten his wake up call, and I think you get a very focused and dangerous athlete here who might be worth looking at as the underdog.
The weigh ins were tense, as both men have a lot riding on the fight. Both were in shape and professional, but Gustafsson is a highly regarded young fighter who is being asked to headline in his home country.
Silva on the other hand, is returning from a suspension, but he has to see the headman’s axe coming for him with another loss. His last fight reverted to a NC as part of his suspension, and he was 1-2 prior to that. Silva has to feel he needs a solid performance to continue with the UFC.
Tune in tomorrow on FUEL TV for the first UFC event we will be seeing in over a month!