Alexander Gustafsson dismantled Jimi Manuwa in the UFC Fight Night 37 main event Saturday evening inside London's 02 Arena.
The No. 1-ranked light heavyweight in the world, Gustafsson spent the majority of Round 1 in top control, peppering away with some ground-and-pound and controlling the action from his advantageous position.
In Round 2, however, fans got a taste of the stand-up war that was so hotly anticipated coming into this bout.
After an eye poke halted the action and left Manuwa rubbing at an agitated socket, the referee set the pieces back in motion, and Gustafsson seized his opportunity to pounce.
In the clinch against the cage, Gustafsson crushed Manuwa with a hard knee that snapped his foe's head around "Exorcist" style, and the Swede proceeded to connect with vicious uppercuts that dropped the Englishman.
From there, Gustafsson landed two hard hammerfists on the ground, and the bout was sealed.
Brutal. Awesome and brutal.— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) March 8, 2014
"The Mauler" scored a signature victory, leaving only destruction in his wake.
What We'll Remember about This Fight
Gustafsson controlled the grappling portion of this fight, and he knocked out the previously undefeated (and relatively untouched) Manuwa in the process.
The win was flawless.
We were reminded just how scary Gustafsson can be inside the Octagon, and he cemented his claim for another title shot with his efforts.
They were BLASTIN!!!!!! Now if @JonnyBones wins we have a NASTY rematch!— Dana White (@danawhite) March 8, 2014
What We Learned about Gustafsson
Gustafsson can still wreck his foes on the feet.
Coming into this fight, many felt that Gustafsson's improved grappling would pave his path toward victory over Manuwa, but the former title challenger instead used his ferocious stand-up attack to earn the win.
Gustafsson still hits really, really hard, and that's still his go-to plan of action. Combined with his improving grappling, Gustafsson's skill set is getting scarier each time he steps into the cage.
What We Learned about Manuwa
Manuwa is not ready for the big time just yet.
Against Gustafsson in the night's main event, Manuwa found himself far removed from the Cyrille Diabates and Ryan Jimmos of his past.
While Manuwa, 34, was undefeated before taking on Gustafsson, he had never tasted anybody of a truly elite caliber, and he suffered mightily as he sampled his first spoonful of the UFC's top five inside the division.
Manuwa actually looked better on the ground in Round 1 than many anticipated, avoiding a submission, reclaiming guard and getting back to his feet, but it was all for naught, as he was knocked out in Round 2.
Unfortunately for fans of the British banger, Manuwa is not prepared to challenge for the UFC's light heavyweight title anytime soon, and he will certainly take a step down after this disappointing loss.
What's Next for Gustafsson?
A title shot is next for Gustafsson.
Glover Teixeira faces Jon Jones at UFC 172 April 26 in Baltimore, Md., and Gustafsson should get the winner of that bout for his next matchup.
Alternatively, the 27-year-old Swede could face Daniel Cormier in a No. 1 contender's bout, but I much prefer the title shot given how close Gustafsson's first fight against Jon Jones was and how brutal he looked in victory at UFC Fight Night 37.
I see no other options after such an impressive performance, and Gustafsson himself made his feelings known in the post-fight interview:
Alexander Gustafsson on Jones: “I want to fight him and I want to finish him."— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) March 8, 2014
What's Next for Manuwa?
Manuwa needs to take a step back after this fight.
Give him Ilir Latifi, who won via submission against Cyrille Diabate earlier in the evening at UFC Fight Night 37, and let's see who belongs to hang around the top 15 of the 205-pound division.