UFC Fight Night 37 Fight Breakdown: Alexander Gustafsson (-380) vs. Jimi Manuwa (+315)

Alexander Gustafsson The main event of UFC Fight Night 37 is a five-round light heavyweight bout between Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson and Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Gustafsson as a -380 favorite (bet $380 to win $100) while Manuwa is a +315 underdog (bet $100 to win $315). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Gustafsson at -405 and Manuwa at +285, meaning there has been slight action on both fighters as the line has tightened up. I’m surprised the line isn’t higher in Gustafsson’s favor at this point, as I’m picking “The Mauler” to get the win in impressive fashion. Here’s why. Gustafsson (15-2) is one of the top light heavyweight fighters in the world and is coming off a razor-thin decision loss to champion Jon Jones at UFC 165. There were many who thought Gustafsson won the fight, but the judges sided with Jones and now “The Mauler” will have to get back on a win streak to get another crack at the belt. The 27-year-old is a very well-rounded fighter with excellent striking as well as very good wrestling and an underrated submission game. In his career he holds notable wins over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Matt Hamill, Thiago Silva, James Te Huna, and Vladimir Matyushenko and was a round away from adding a win over Jones to that list. Despite nearly dethroning the champ in the best fight of 2013, for whatever reason the UFC decided to give Glover Teixeira the next title shot and now Gustafsson has to work his way back up the ladder. That starts this weekend, when the Swede travels to England to take on Manuwa in what is likely a No. 1 contender fight in the UFC light heavyweight division. Manuwa (14-0) is a talented striker fighting out of London, England. The 34-year-old is undefeated so far in his MMA career and all 14 of his victories have come via T/KO or submission. In fact, Manuwa has been beating up his opponents so badly that the last four opponents he’s fought have either gotten injured during the fight, quit on the stool, or were beaten up so badly the doctor stopped the fight. Sure, the fighters were Ryan Jimmo, Cyrille Diabate, Kyle Kingsbury and Anthony Rea — four solid, but not elite fighters — but still, it shows just how devastating this man is with his striking and he makes for a very intriguing matchup against Gustafsson, who has some of the best standup in the light heavyweight division. For Manuwa, the gameplan is very clear — stop Gustafsson’s takedown attempts and knock him out. And in the first few rounds, he’ll have a good chance of doing just that. But considering he’s never gone past two rounds in his career and considering this is a five-round fight, the biggest question for Manuwa may be his cardio — and it’s something that’s a total unknown to quantify until we see how the fight plays out this weekend. The striking should be very competitive in the early going, but we’ve seen Gustafsson has a great chin and if Manuwa doesn’t knock him out in the first two rounds he will be in trouble. Manuwa has never been out of the first two rounds in his entire career, while Gustafsson just proved against Jones he has what it takes to go five. So as long as Gustafsson can weather the early storm, he should be able to take Manuwa into deep waters and drown him, earning a submission victory sometime in the third or fourth round. I’m thinking via rear-naked choke. At -380, I really like Gustafsson as part of a parlay because I think his line should be a lot higher. I know Manuwa is a powerful striker, but Gustafsson is by far the superior mixed martial artist and as long as he doesn’t get clipped with a four-once glove and get his lights put out, this is his fight to lose. I’ll be looking for the prop bet on Gustafsson wins by submission throughout the week as well, as I think that’s his method of victory. And as a hedge to my Gustafsson parlays, I’ll be looking to see what kind of odds are on Manuwa by T/KO — his only real way to win the fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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