In the main event of UFC On Fuel TV 2, rising Light Heavyweight prospect Alexander Gustafsson (13-1; 5-1 UFC) faces Thiago Silva (14-2 (1); 5-2 (1) UFC). This bout wraps up the UFC's debut card in Sweden. Gustafsson is currently the #9 ranked Light Heavyweight in the world according to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, while Silva, despite being inactive for over a year, sits at #15. Don't forget, this show has an early start time - prelims begin at 12:30 p.m. ET / 9:30 a.m. PT on Facebook, with the main card following at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT on Fuel.
The interest in this fight has been squarely on Gustafsson. The Swede was originally scheduled to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a classic veteran vs. up-and-comer match-up as the main event of this show. However, when Lil Nog went down to injury, Silva stepped in. This is the Brazilians first fight back after a 1 year long suspension, and it's definitely a tough return fight, as Gustafsson has been on a roll lately.
How do these two stack up?
Gustafsson: 25 years old | 6'5" | 76.5" reach
Silva: 29 years old | 6'1" | 75" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson joins Jon Jones and Phil Davis on the list of young talents rising up the Light Heavyweight ranks. And at a time when many of the long-time LHW names are fading away, that influx of new talent is much needed. Gustafsson is a 5 year pro who made his UFC debut in 2009. He's looked progressively better with every fight. His lone loss came against Phil Davis back at UFC 112 - he's 4-0 since, with all 4 fights ending via stoppage, and usually a pretty brutal stoppage. There's a lot of excitement over The Mauler, and this could be his big coming out party.
Thiago Silva finds himself in a very different place than his opponent. The Brazilian fighter made his UFC debut in 2007. He put together a perfect 13-0 record and was in a very similar position as Gustafsson is today when he faced Lyoto Machida at UFC 94. Machida snapped that perfect record with a nasty KO, and Silva's career has honestly never been the same. In the 3 years since the Machida loss, he's fought just 3 times, winning only once. He took a year off in 2010 to deal with a back injury, returned in 2011 to defeat Brandon Vera, and was quickly suspended for a year for using a banned substance and falsifying his post-fight drug test. This is his first fight back after the suspension. Silva had a mountain of hype once upon a time (a mountain that, in my eyes, was at least a bit undeserved), but now finds himself at a point of reckoning.
Why should you care?
Two options here: 1) Gustafsson emerges as a new potential main event young gun in the Light Heavyweight division, or 2) Silva pulls off a huge redemption win. Either one is a big moment. And if that's not enough for you, this should just be a hell of a fight too.
More UFC On Fuel TV 2 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.