Alexander Gustafsson just picked up his fifth consecutive win in the UFC. The young fighter is 6-1 overall in the organization with five stoppages. Along with Ryan Bader and Phil Davis, he is inarguably one of the top prospects in the division. Unlike those men, he has not suffered a recent loss.
With all of this in mind, and in light of the current state of the division, the Swedish fighter is within a single win of earning a title shot. No one else in the division, with the exception of the champion, is on a win streak like him. Most importantly, unlike many of the top names, Gustafsson has yet to lose to the champ. With Rashad Evans receiving his shot next weekend and Dan Henderson being next in line, Gustaffson could easily secure his shot with one more victory.
The big question for Gustafsson is who he will meet in his next bout. With a potential title shot on the line, the next logical step for Gustafsson is a former champion ranked in the top five of the division. In other words, an opponent who will instantly cause the Swede to be considered a title contender with a win. In light of the current state of the division, the best possible opponent is Shogun Rua.
Take a look at the rest of the big names near the top of the division. Evans is currently booked to fight the champ. Rampage is coming off of an uninspiring loss, which followed a stoppage loss to the champ. Henderson will seemingly fight the Jones-Evans winner in his next bout. Forrest is set to battle Tito Ortiz. Machida would be a good test, but he is also 1-3 in his past four, meaning he should not be placed in a bout with potential title implications. After eliminating all of these options, Shogun is the only name left.
Despite Shogun's recent loss to Henderson, he is still one of the top fighters in the division. The bout with Henderson was, to many, the greatest fight in the history of the sport. On top of that, the fight could have easily been judged in Shogun's favor. These facts indicate that Shogun could easily be back in title contention with one or two big wins. A win over Gustafsson is just the type of accomplishment that would place Shogun back in the mix.
Gustafsson needs a big name, highly ranked opponent. Shogun needs to be matched with a fighter close to a title shot in order to put himself back in the mix. Matching each man with the other would satisfy all of those needs.
On top of all of that, Shogun vs. Gustafsson would no doubt be one helluva fight. When it all comes down to it, that's all that matters.