UFC president Dana White said Jimi Manuwa would be getting
“a big fight” next. He wasn’t lying.
Manuwa, the top English prospect, will take on top light
heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC
Fight Night in London on March 8, it was announced Tuesday on BT
Sport in the United Kingdom.
Manuwa finished Ryan Jimmo by TKO at UFC Fight Night: Machida
vs. Munoz just 11 days ago. The fight was stopped because Jimmo was
injured, but Manuwa was dominant.
This represents a huge step up for the 33-year-old –
Gustafsson is coming off a war with champion Jon Jones in a fight
that many thought the Swede won.
“It’s a great opportunity and I have always said I
will fight anyone,” Manuwa told Gareth Davies of Telegraph Sport.
“It will be a great event, and now I just want to get my
thumb repaired, because I have been scratching the walls because I
just want to get back in the gym.”
The UFC passed up heavyweight Daniel Cormier for this fight,
because he’s “never made it to 205 before,” White
said. It’s likely he wouldn’t want to make that cut for
the first time overseas either.
“Manuwa is undefeated,” White said.
“He’s a big nasty striker.”
A win over Gustafsson would vault Manuwa from little-known
international fighter to the short list of UFC light heavyweight
contenders. And the bout will be in his hometown.
If Gustafsson beats Manuwa, he’s expected to get a rematch
with Jones. That is, if Jones can get by Glover Teixeira in either
March or April.
“His clean record is impressive but I am one fight away
from the title fight again and I will fight my heart out to get a
win in this fight and reach my goals,” Gustafsson told
Telegraph Sport. “Jimi is a great stand-up fighter which he
proved in his last fight in Manchester.
“We will put on a hell of a show, but I am not sure who
will have the hometown advantage since I expect an invasion of
Swedish fans to come and support me.”