Shogun Rua v. Alexander Gustafsson, UFC on FOX 5: a Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Title implications in the light heavyweight division will be felt at the next UFC on Fox, when former champion Mauricio Rua meets up with hot, up-and-coming Swede Alexander Gustafsson on the main card.
Each man has a chance to be in the title picture. Rua, who won his last fight in the last UFC on Fox headliner against Brandon Vera, is one of the top fighters at 205 pounds and has a chance to get the title shot with a win.
Gustafsson, who has looked stellar as of late, is on a solid winning streak as of right now. He may be a win or two away from a title shot.
Here is a head-to-toe breakdown of this important matchup.
In terms of striking, this is the area where both men are strongest.
Rua is a legendary Muay Thai specialist with brutal leg kicks and aggressive power striking. Rua has knocked out a who's who of top-notch MMA fighters, including Forrest Griffin, Lyoto Machida and Chuck Liddell (all former champions).
Gustafsson's style is more boxing oriented. He uses his quickness and footwork to frustrate his enemies and earn knockouts.
Gustafsson has nine knockouts in 14 career wins (64.2 percent), while Rua owns 18 knockouts in 21 wins (85.7 percent). Therefore, Rua owns the advantage.
In short, neither of these two men has a background in wrestling or superior wrestling credentials.
What we can depend on are straight takedowns and defense. Both men are extremely difficult to get on their backs, unless they are facing a dominant wrestler.
In terms of offense, Mauricio Rua may have some of the most underrated takedowns in MMA. He uses his aggressive stance to force his way in before clinching and dragging his opponents down.
Gustafsson rarely looks for takedowns but works on his wrestling with Phil Davis. Still, it is not enough to gain the edge.
As stated before, both Alexander Gustafsson and Mauricio Rua love to strike. That does not mean they don't possess good submissions.
Gustafsson is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt with three submission wins. All of these submissions have come by rear-naked choke, including against Cyrille Diabate and James Te Huna.
Rua is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with only one career submission (v. Kevin Randleman). Rua has great submission ability, but he chooses to ground and pound his opponents to oblivion.
Some would say it's close, but I think the obvious edge goes to the Pride legend.
The first intangible going into this fight has to be mileage. While Gustafsson is relatively young in the sport and has not been in many wars, Rua has had knee injuries slow him down and has been through some hellacious battles.
But that is where the second intangible comes into place: Rua has a greater deal of experience, especially in the spotlight. He will not have any jitters from the limelight that Gustafsson may experience coming into a fight of this magnitude.
Also, as pointed out by many, Gustafsson's cardio is far better than the aged Rua. Depending on the pace of the fight, Rua will wear down accordingly.
When fight night comes, it should be an interesting one. Although I gave almost all of the edges to Mauricio Rua, Alexander Gustafsson continues to exceed expectations.
I see this becoming a striking battle. The only way it will go to the ground is if somebody is rocked and gets followed there.
Mauricio Rua is a elite striker in MMA. He has a more diverse background and the aggressive style to make any fighter uncomfortable.
I see Rua continuing his winning ways by either a late knockout or a clear decision. It won't be the end of Gustafsson and will make him stronger.
Prediction: Rua def. Gustafsson via late knockout or decision.