UFC Fight Night London fight card primer: Alexander Gustafsson vs Jimi Manuwa

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Bloody Elbow presents a preview of UFC Fight Night London in our fight card primer series. Here we look at the main event: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa live on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event at UFC Fight Night London, former title contender Alexander Gustafsson (15-2 MMA; 7-2 UFC) takes on Jimi Manuwa (14-0 MMA; 3-0 UFC). This five round Light Heavyweight fight headlines the four fight main card. The UFC Rankings have Gustafsson as the #1 contender at 205, with Manuwa at #11. UFC Fight Night London airs this Saturday, March 8 with a fight time of 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT for the main card. The show airs in a live stream at UFC Fight Pass.

Gustafsson vs Manuwa is a weird fight for a lot of reasons. It's in London, so should be a feature fight for Manuwa. However, it's also a huge step up for him, and a fight where he is the heavy underdog. It's also a very important fight for rankings, with big title shot implications for the winner, yet it will be somewhat unseen in the US thanks to its positioning on Fight Pass. All that said, it's also an incredibly dynamic fight between two explosive fighters that could be a real show stealer.

How do these two stack up?

Gustafsson: 27 years old | 6'5" | 81" reach
Manuwa: 34 years old | 6'1" | 79" reach

What have these two done recently?

Gustafsson: L - Jon Jones (UD) | W - Mauricio Rua (UD) | W - Thiago Silva (UD)
Manuwa: W - Ryan Jimmo (TKO) | W - Cyrille Diabate (TKO) | W - Kyle Kingsbury (TKO)

How did these two get here?

Alexander Gustafsson earned high praise for his Fight of the Year decision loss to champion Jon Jones last year, and justifiably so. That fight showed that the lanky Swedish fighter is definitively the division's #2 - and the gap between #2 and #1 is not nearly as wide as many thought. With his quality striking and overall game, Gustafsson is a threat to every fighter in the division, and was on a 7 fight win streak before the Jones fight. A rematch with Jones seems like a given if he scores just a small handful of rebound wins.

More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC Fight Night London

Jimi Manuwa made his UFC debut in 2012 and has looked very good in his three Octagon fights. He has kept his undefeated record intact while steadily facing a tougher level of competition. This is a big step up for him, but he has been consistently taking those steps throughout his UFC run. A tough striker with a nice Muay Thai background, Manuwa has the weird distinction of holding three consecutive TKO wins, all via doctor stoppage or injury. It feels like he may need another slightly flukey win to earn the upset here.

Why should you care?

Depending how this one plays out, the winner could be next or 1 fight away from a title shot. Plus, this could just be a very fun, exciting fight. Well worth a watch.

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