UFC London Opening Odds Breakdown: Light Heavyweights Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa

Jimi Manuwa Date: March 8, 2014 Location: London, England Broadcast: FOX Sports 2 UFC Light Heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson (-405) Profile: Alexander Gustafsson (15-2) has made his mark on the UFC light heavyweight division in the last few years. The 26-year-old Swede’s first loss up until 2013 came to another light heavyweight youngster who is also working his way to the top of the rankings in Phil Davis back in April of 2010. Since then, Gustafsson has used his size and superlative MMA boxing to amass another six-fight winning streak, with four of those wins ending via submission or strikes. In his past bouts, Gustafsson looked somewhat hesitant against Thiago Silva yet still scored a unanimous decision win, and then he came out much more aggressive vs. Shogun Rua in earning another UD victory for the biggest W of his young career. He was dominant against Shogun, but Shogun is not the Shogun of old, and Gustafsson peppered him incessantly, using his length perfectly. For a few months, Gustafsson was set to face former Strikeforce LHW champion Gegard Mousasi in a highly-anticipated matchup, but had to back out a week before the fight due to a cut received in training. With some maneuvering, Gustafsson was then given the light heavyweight title shot against Jon Jones after Mousasi injured his knee and the rest of the 205 division was trying to sort itself out. Jones and Gus would meet at UFC 165, and what would transpire there was simply incredible. No one had ever been so good against Jon Jones, arguably the greatest fighter in light heavyweight history. Jones would get his takedowns stuffed by Gus over and over again, and Gus proceeded to bust up Jones on the feet. Length played a part in it, as Jones had never had his size advantage nullified so much by another fighter of similar size. As the fight wore on, however, Gustafsson gassed, as the beating he put on Jones just took too much out of him. Eventually Jones would be able to battle back and win a decision in what was one of the best fights of the year. After the dust settled, Gus was paired against Antonio Rogeiro Noguiera, but Lil’ Nog got hurt and in steps in the much hyped Jimi Manuwa in his place. UFC Light Heavyweight Jimi Manuwa (+285) Profile: Jimi Manuwa (14-0) is a monster. Some may not believe the hype, but there’s many — including UFC matchmaker Joe Silva — who are all-in on the Manuwa hype-train. Let me spell this out for you: Manuwa is 14-0 with 13 (T)kos and 1 submission. He’s absolutely decimated everyone he’s faced and has literally hit Cyrille Diabate and Ryan Jimmo so hard with his kicks that they had to quit due to injury. He retired Kyle Kingsbury, who isn’t necessarily a good fighter, but he was tough, and you have to give him that. Still, Manuwa broke his orbital and just destroyed his face. Every single strike Manuwa throws is with bad intentions, and this will be an interesting test against Gustafsson, who is lauded for using his length, as Manuwa actually has a half-inch advantage over him. This could go very poorly for Gustafsson if he starts slow, as Manuwa is pretty full-blast from the start and has some incredible power. This is a huge fight for Manuwa, who’s main detraction could be his quality of competition. Opening UFC Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Gustafsson a -405 favorite (bet $405 to win $100) while Manuwa opened as a +285 underdog (bet $100 to win $285) at Several Bookmakers. After Antonio Rogerio Nogueira pulled out of the fight with Gustafsson, the UFC was left with very little options for an opponent for “The Mauler,” and so they chose to match him up with London’s own Manuwa, an undefeated striker who is 3-0 so far in the UFC. I am extremely high on Manuwa due to his devastating knockout power and ability to hurt his opponents so bad that they can no longer continue, but I have to admit he is being pushed up the ladder too fast in this fight against Gustafsson, who is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. And that’s why you see the line so high, because Gustafsson should cruise here. But we’ve seen time and time again that in a sport like MMA where the fighters wear four-once gloves, anything can happen, and especially going up against a guy with the explosive power like Manuwa, you never know.

Written by Adam Martin.

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