UFC 141: Matyushenko vs. Gustafsson
Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (12-1)
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In a light heavyweight duel, “The Janitor” will try to turn back the clock and halt the momentum of the Swedish sensation Gustafsson.
Matyushenko, 40, is a UFC trailblazer and one of the oldest active fighters still under contract. The Belarusian bomber made his promotional debut at UFC 32 by defeating Yuki Kondo. Throughout his career, which dates back to 1997, Matyushenko has beaten numerous quality opponents, including Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Travis Wiuff, Pedro Rizzo, Tim Boetsch, Igor Pokrajac and Eliot Marshall.
Riding a two-fight winning streak, including a 20-second knockout of Jason Brilz at UFC 129 this past April, the well-versed Matyushenko will look to make the most of a grand opportunity and steal the thunder away from one of the division’s fastest rising prospects.
Gustafsson, 24, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, has finished his last three foes in impressive fashion. After submitting Cyrille Diabate and James Te Huna, Gustafsson stopped Matt Hamill in a one-sided fight that ultimately led Hamill to retire from the sport.
Gustafsson has lost just once — suffering a submission setback to Phil Davis at UFC 112 — but the loss led him to join Alliance MMA and begin training with Davis. The move was obviously beneficial as Gustafsson has turned in stellar performances as of late.
Matyushenko may be nearing the end of his mixed martial arts journey, but he still has what it takes to give anyone in the division a tough fight. This means Gustafsson will have to be that much quicker and sharper to find an opening. The moment Matyushenko lets his guard down or leaves himself open, the lanky Swede will capitalize and finish him with an onslaught of blows.
Verdict: Gustafsson via TKO, Round 2