The UFC sets up shop in Stockholm, Sweden for the fifth time and it brings the face of Swedish MMA with it. Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira meet in the main event with the Sportsbook potentially in line to take on the Sportsbook of Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier while the loser gets tossed into a hungry group of up-and-coming 205-pounders.
Two of those young, hungry light heavyweight meet in the co-main event as Latvian-Canadian Misha Cirkunov takes on Swiss Volkan Oezdemir. The Sportsbook of this bout will find himself knocking on the door of the few elite 205-pound fighters left.
Alexander Gustafsson vs Glover Teixeira
Gustafsson (-325) is a large, lanky individual. He excels at using his reach and height to his advantage like few fighters in MMA. ‘The Mauler’ looks to keep the striking exchanges to a distance where he can probe with his crisp jab and some measuring leg kicks. His best punch may be his uppercut, which Gustafsson uses frequently against fighters who shoot in on him to exploit his long frame. Overall, he is more of a stick-and-move striker but has some solid power if he sits down on his punches.
Gustafsson also utilizes his height in grappling exchanges. In the clinch, the Swede is a mismatch nightmare with his size and technique creating great leverage. If a fight goes to the ground, which is a big “if” with Gustafsson’s amazing takedown defense, the former title challenger is aggressive from the top. He leans forward to create constant pressure on his opponent’s shoulders while throwing crisp strikes.
There is no doubt that Gustafsson can go 25 minutes and he does so while pushing the pace. His cardio is among the best in the division and he continues to prod his opponent well into the championship rounds. If you’re going to beat him, you need to go the distance as he has only two stoppage losses in his career.
Much like his opponent, Teixeira (+250) is plenty capable of beating opponents in every facet of the game but prefers to do his work in the striking game. Primarily a boxer, the Brazilian likes to fight in a phone booth and make it ugly. Teixeira’s striking game is running perfectly in close, as he throws short, tight punches that come from nowhere. Any opponent needs to keep an eye out for his left hook, which has plenty of similarities to that of his boxing legend, Mike Tyson.
Maybe it’s not the most varied around but Tex has an underrated wrestling game. He typically shoots for one leg and does a great job transitioning that to a double leg to gain top control. Once on top, Teixeira is almost impossible to get off. He is heavy, passes with relative ease, has vicious ground and pound and has a second degree black belt in BJJ. Defensively, Teixeira is solid in his grappling and is above average in that regard.
Pressure is the key to Teixeira’s game. He uses excellent footwork to force his opponent backward and then close space to throw his strikes in tight. He doesn’t have the same level of 25-minute fight as Gustafsson but he is plenty capable of going five rounds.
This is an exciting fight that is likely going to be a striking lover’s dream. The biggest factor will be Gustafsson’s mobility vs Teixeira’s pressure. The Swede has no problem getting out of Dodge and fleeing bad situations but if he gets stuck in the Brazilian’s wheelhouse, then it could get dangerous.
Misha Cirkunov vs Volkan Oezdemir
Cirkunov (-450) is a monster of a human being. He is a big, thick light heavyweight who is constantly hunting for the finish. In the striking game, Cirkunov isn’t anything to write home about in terms of technical striking prowess, though he is growing. He is fairly rigid but he makes up for that with some of the heaviest hands in the division.
When you look at a guy like Cirkunov, you expect him to be a powerhouse puncher but it’s his grappling that makes him a fighter to watch. He has terrific takedowns and once he gains top control, he passes guard like a man half his size. He can posture up and land some of his massive punches but he looks more for the submission. The BJJ black belt is constantly hunting for the neck and has the power to make an opponent tap even if he doesn’t have the submission locked in perfectly – just watch what he did to Alex Nicholson.
Oezdemir (+325) became the first Swiss-born fighter to compete in the UFC when he defeated Ovince Saint-Preux in a short notice bout at UFC Fight Night 104. ‘Cousin’ looked calculated and stuck to his game plan against OSP but has shown a tendency to get into brawls at times. When focused, Oezdemir has powerful, crisp combinations that mix together punches and kicks.
In terms of grappling, you will rarely see Oezdemir using it offensively. He is a former kickboxer who wants to keep a fight standing and technical. Oezdemir does have a natural timing when he does shoot for takedowns and does so with a good explosiveness. His grappling is really built to be a defensive aspect of his game to keep a fight upright. If he does get taken down, Oezdemir doesn’t really offer much and can get overwhelmed.
This is a matchup between two prospects on the cusp of making the elite in the division. Cirkunov has proven himself to UFC fans with several dominant performances. Oezdemir is still fairly green in terms of audience knowledge but took down a former title challenger on short notice. Cirkunov has the advantage in power and grappling while Oezdemir has the advantage in striking.