SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27: Alexander Gustafsson of Sweden catches James Te Huna of Australia in a choke hold during their light heavyweight bout as part of UFC 127 at Acer Arena on February 27, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
UFC on Fuel 2 main event participant Alexander Gustafsson is clearly one of the brightest prospects in the UFC's light heavyweight division, and he'll face perhaps the toughest fight of his career this weekend when he meets Thiago Silva. MMA Mania's Brian Hemminger conducted an interview with The Mauler in advance of the bout, where he discussed his training, strategy, and opponent. First off he talked about the unique circumstances surrounding his training for the bout, due to many members of his camp (Alliance MMA in San Diego) being in Las Vegas to film The Ultimate Fighter:
Yeah, we went and trained in Vegas with them. I got three weeks that I was training with them so that was really good, really good training. We trained at a lot of different gyms over there, but it was all still with Team Alliance. It was a new experience, training with some new guys in the Las Vegas area too. It was a really good camp over there.
Next up, he talks about how Silva disrespected his teammate Brandon Vera at UFC 125, and states that similar stunts against him wouldn't affect his actions in the cage:
He's a great fighter but he's not a good sportsman. He's lacking in respect in his fights and it just makes me more motivated to fight him. He's a very entertaining fighter too, so it's gonna be a good fight for the fans.
No, absolutely not. I'm a professional and I stick to my game. He will probably do it too so I'm prepared for it. It's not going to affect me at all.
Finally, he discusses some strategy and areas where he feels he has an advantage over Silva:
I would say I'm much better at technical striking than he is but you know, he's got some good power and you can't underestimate him. You have to stay away from it and keep my guard up.
I like to use my range and that's one of my strengths and a tactic I try to use in every fight. I will definitely be using it against him.
A win over Silva could push Gustafsson into the elite of the division and earn him some more big-money fights. Can he pull it off in his home country of Sweden against Silva, who is stepping into the octagon for the first time in 15 months? Saturday's main event should be excellent.