This was a hard fought fight, but in the end Alexander Gustafsson was a deserving winner over Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, earning a unanimous decision victory.
These two got right to work and Gustafsson got off to a seemingly perfect start when he dropped ‘Shogun’ with a strike.
He looked to capitalize on it by following him down to the mat, but ‘Shogun’s’ head was still clear and he quickly showed his ground skills by managing to work a leg lock. The Swede was suddenly in trouble, but he managed to wriggle free and get back to his feet.
‘Shogun’ wasn’t finished yet though and followed him up and tried to take his back, but they broke free.
They exchange and Gustafsson reaches down and secures a takedown, then decides not to pursue it.
Back on his feet Shogun gets aggressive with his offense and manages to drop Gustafsson with a right hand, but he gets quickly back to his feet.
They clinch and Gustafsson scores a good knee before breaking free. The closing minute is back and forth as the two men try gain an edge in the striking, but it’s close stuff.
Onto round two and ‘Shogun’ looks to take the action to Gustafsson and comes off best in a hard-hitting exchange of punches. Soon after he lands another big right hand, but the Swede takes it well.
Another good right hand from the Brazilian, but he doesn’t follow up with anything behind it. Gustafsson goes for the clinch and slows the pace before the two men are broken apart by the ref.
Shogun moves forward again with strikes and Gustafsson neatly uses a wizzer to spin him towards the mat, but he can’t quite get him down.
Not longer after Gustafsson uses the wizzer again to throw Rua briefly to the mat.
Good job from Gustafsson here to switch up his fighting style and show off his ground game and he’s able to score points with a couple of other takedowns as the round progresses, and mixes that up with some solid shots on the feet and Shogun’s face is looking a little banged up.
Starting round three the two men exchange punches and Gustafsson tries a takedown. ‘Shogun’ goes down but attempts to get to his feet immediately. There’s a scrappy scramble that ends with Gustafsson taking Shogun’s back while he’s turtled up on his knees, but he’s unable to keep him there.
Back on the feet the two are keeping a good pace and go straight back to work. Gustafsson’s still fighting smartly, mixing things up and gets another takedown. More points scored, but his problem is he’s unable to keep the fight on the mat to capitalize on the advantageous position.
Back on the feet Gustaffsson lands a hard body kick and it seems to hurt Shogun and he backs up taking deep breaths. Gustafsson doesn’t pursue overly aggressively but stalks him and starts to pick him off with a few strikes.
There’s not a whole lot coming in return from Shogun now, he looks to just be trying to survive to the bell. He manages to do that, but not before Gustafsson lands a few more shots and then secures a final takedown.
Good performance from Gustafsson here and he claims a unanimous decision victory on the judges scorecards (30-27 x2, 30-26).
This performance should be enough to secure Gustafsson a title shot against the winner of Jon Jones Vs Chael Sonnen, and it’s well earned after six straight victories.