Gustafsson gets Jimi Manuwa next
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.
Gustafsson, 26, was supposed to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on the England card, but Nogueira pulled out with an injury just five days after White announced it.
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.”