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5 min read

UFC London: Can “The Mauler” Make Something Happen?

The UFC announced in May that former title challenger Alexander Gustafsson will be facing Nikita Krylov on July 23rd when the promotion returns to the O2 Arena in London.

UFC London: Make or Break

The 6’5″ Swedish striker has always captured the interest of MMA fans, even after his most recent losing skid and lengthy inactivity. It may surprise some MMA fans that Gustafsson made his UFC debut all the way back in 2009. After more than ten years, ‘The Mauler’ is still competing amongst the elite.

With stellar performances against Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, it’s no wonder why ‘The Mauler’ is still chasing gold, with him being a fingertip away on more than one occasion. However, the window may be closing. Being 35 years of age, and taking his fair share of punishment, this may be make-or-break for the Swedish star.

‘The Miner’ Nikita Krylov has had his ups and downs as well. Joining the promotion in 2013, Krylov went on a tear from 2014 through 2016, not dropping a single fight until meeting Misha Cirkunov at UFC 206. Since then, the Ukrainian has gone 2-5 in his last 7. 

While most of Krylov’s finishes have come via submission, he seems to be a fighter that strikes into his grappling, as he does not show proficiency with the takedown, only getting it 35% of the time. Krylov will surely be motivated going into this fight, as his future will be uncertain with a loss. 

UFC London: Matchup and Implications 

This fight jumps off the card when looking at UFC London. Not only is this a legacy fight with two war dogs, but the winner of this fight could also really make something happen for their career considering the volatility of the 205-pound division. Throughout his career, but especially in recent years, Gustafsson has shown poor submission defense. Krylov is proficient with the submission, so that could be a path to victory for Krylov. 

With that, getting ‘The Mauler’ to the ground will not be an easy task. Looking at the stand-up, it’s hard to argue that Gustafsson does not hold the advantage, considering the strikers he has banged with, and the quality of stoppages Gustafsson has over his lengthy career.

The odds have Gustafsson as a slight underdog and considering all the factors, it’s an understandable line. It’s challenging to bet on The Swedish fighter, considering the lack of activity and recent results. But setting that aside, there doesn’t seem to be a sure path to victory for Krylov in this fight.

Gustafsson stuffs 83% of the takedowns that come his way. Krylov blasting his way into a submission is possible, but challenging. While the Ukrainian has been more active, neither fighter has performed well over the last few years. This fight feels like a pick’em. Come UFC London, all these questions will be answered.

Who do you think gets the win in this light heavyweight showdown at UFC London?

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

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