As the first stint of UFC Fight Island comes to a close, two UFC veterans Fabricio ‘Vai Cavalo’ Werdum and Alexander ‘The Mauler’ Gustafsson go head to head as they both look to move back in the win column.
UFC 249 was a night to forget for Werdum as he lost via split decision to 43-year-old Aleksei Oleinik. The bout was his first since being knocked out by Alexander Volkov at UFC Fight Night 127 in March 2018.
“Vai Cavalo’s” 2-year absence became rather apparent as he looked sluggish, out of shape, slow, and struggled to get any momentum behind him until the fight was all but over.
Olenik’s rather unexpected approach to the fight seemingly caught the former UFC champion off guard as he chose to outstrike Werdum despite being one of the most established submission magicians in UFC history.
Werdum is a 4-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, a two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club World Heavyweight Champion, and a European jiu-jitsu champion. He also holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Judo, and Muay Thai.
With his all-rounded fighting style, I expect to see Werdum keeping the contest standing as he has the power and precision to close the show at any given moment. However, if he does become rocked by a Gustafsson shot, he has the ability to go for a takedown and attempt his favored Guillotine submission.
Alexander Gustafsson meanwhile makes his highly anticipated heavyweight debut as he comes out of retirement to seemingly go on one last title run.
The Mauler retired in June 2019, after losing to Anthony Smith via rear-naked choke in the fourth round of their main event at UFC Fight Night 153. In his post-fight interview, he took his gloves off, laid them in the middle of the octagon and concluded with “the show is over, guys”
Gustafsson likes to strike with his opponents when in the octagon. I believe that in this fight, the Swedish born fighter will use his distance and footwork to evade the striking of Werdum and then create his own opportunities and find openings. However, his offensive and defensive wrestling have grown to a high but underrated level over the years meaning he will head into this scrap with bundles of confidence.
In this 15-minute bout, I expect Gustafsson to use his height and reach advantage to stay on the outside and land strikes from a distance. This will force Werdum to advance into Gustafsson’s pocket where I believe The Mauler has the advantage. Due to Werdum’s last showing vs Oleinik, I think that the odds are heavily in Gustafsson’s favor.
My fight prediction: Gustafsson by decision.