The last time Alexander Gustafsson performed in front of his home fans in Stockholm, Sweden it was, thanks to the fists of Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, brief and brutal and a night he immediately wanted to forget. Tonight (May 28), however, two-and-a-half years on from that home city humbling, Gustafsson treated his adoring Stockholm fans to a display of near-perfection, dispatching fellow light-heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira in the fifth round of a one-sided drubbing.
Going into the fight, Gustafsson, 30, would have been forgiven for feeling antsy, nervous, perhaps even pessimistic, in light of what happened before 30,000 fans in Stockholm in 2015. But, to his credit, there appeared no evident signs of any such apprehension or fear during the twenty-one minutes he spent in Teixeira’s company. Instead, the Swede was so dominant and so precise with his work, there’s an argument to be made that he’s never looked better.
Certainly, his game plan seemed clear enough from the get-go. He’d use a little of what gave Johnson, his nemesis, success (by success I mean a thirteen-second knockout win) against Teixeira in 2016 and mix that in with a lot of lateral movement and strike variety. In short, he’d wait for Teixeira to stoop low when heavy on his front leg, time him for an uppercut – the ‘Rumble’ punch, the punch Gustafsson landed with frightening regularity – and then spin off, turn or sometimes just simply run away whenever he sensed his Brazilian opponent was primed to retaliate.
The pattern was set early and continued throughout. There were some wild swings from Teixeira, and some stuffed takedown attempts, but, for the most part, it was Gustafsson doing the lion’s share of the work – with punches, with kicks – and peppering the stocky South American’s face and body with a whole host of shots. These weren’t necessarily single shots, either. In fact, time and time again Gustafsson would improvise with some wonderfully-picked combinations, comprising jabs, hooks, crosses, uppercuts, kicks and elbows, which had Gustafsson looking like a character from a video game and Teixeira feeling as though he was surrounded.
Indeed, the gulf in class didn’t seem fair at times. Gustafsson was able to move and punch and kick and then move again, whereas 37-year-old Teixeira, leaden-footed and sluggish, put all his hope in punches that never seemed close to landing and takedowns that were frequently falling some way short of their intended target. The more his punches missed, and the more his takedowns hit dead ends, the more dispirited Teixeira became and the more confidence seemed to fuel an already buoyant Gustafsson.
By the time the fifth round came along, the result was as good as rendered. Gustafsson, the man who hadn’t missed a beat all night, was going to pick up a lopsided unanimous decision and Teixeira, marked up and unsteady on his feet, could do nothing to dispute this. However, despite knowing he had the fight in the bag, Gustafsson, having hit Teixeira with every shot in the book, didn’t seem content until he’d secure the ultimate kind of victory. Which is why, a minute into round five, he cracked the point of Teixeira’s chin with three consecutive uppercuts – each of them snapping the poor Brazilian’s head back – before ending the fight with a scything right hand.
It was all she wrote. The final bit of Teixeira’s resistance had gone and Gustafsson, aware of this, didn’t even contemplate rushing in for a coup de grâce. His opponent, as tough as he was limited, had seen and taken enough for one night.
“Glover is a tough, tough guy,” Gustafsson, 18-4, said. “I was so honored to fight him here in my home in Stockholm. He has a good chin. He’s a real fighter. He goes through the pain and just keeps going. He is a strong, heavy-handed fighter. I just couldn’t stand and trade with him. I had to move and score points. I just took my time to get there.”
In the UFC Fight Night 109 co-main event, twenty-eight seconds was all it took for Volkan Oezdemir to drop and onrushing Misha Cirkunov, with his back against the fence, and end their battle of highly-touted light-heavyweight prospects. The cuffing right hook, which landed somewhere around Cirkunov’s ear, was enough to discombobulate the Latvian and hand him his first loss since 2012.
UFC Fight Night 109 results:
Alexander Gustafsson def. Glover Teixeira via fifth-round TKO (1:07)
Volkan Oezdemir def. Misha Cirkunov via first-round TKO (0:28)
Peter Sobotta def. Ben Saunders via second-round TKO (2:29)
Omari Akhmedov def. Adbul Razak Alhassan via split decision (30-27×2, 28-29)
Nordine Taleb def. Oliver Enkamp via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Jack Hermansson def. Alex Nicholson via first-round TKO (2:00)
Pedro Munhoz def. Damian Stasiak via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Trevor Smith def. Chris Camozzi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26 x2)
Joaquim Silva def. Reza Madadi via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Bojan Velickovic def. Nico Musoke via third-round TKO (4:37)
Darren Till def. Jessin Ayari via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-27)
Damir Hadzovic def. Marcin Held via third-round KO (0:07)