The mixed martial arts (MMA) world will descend on Houston, Texas, tomorrow night (Saturday, October 3, 2015) for the anticipated UFC 192 pay-per-view (PPV) event from the Toyota Center.
In the main event, newly minted light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will seek to score his first title defense against Swedish star Alexander Gustafsson, who is most well-known for his controversial decision loss to former champion Jon Jones at September 2013’s UFC 165.
What’s more, most fans felt that Gustafsson may not have deserved another crack at the belt so soon, as he was absolutely destroyed by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at January’s UFC on FOX 14. Johnson then faced Cormier for the belt at UFC 187 in May, and despite a huge shot early, “DC” largely had his way with “Rumble” before submitting him with a title-clinching choke in the third round.
True, MMA math rarely adds up and Gustafsson could certainly steal the belt, but these factors have a large percentage of the population picking a favored Cormier to retain the title going away. Here are five reasons they believe he will.
Gustafsson hasn’t been shy about the fact that he considered walking away from MMA after his devastating loss to “Rumble”: in fact, now he’s said he used it as a bit of motivation to re-focus.
Yet so much pressure was heaped upon his shoulders in his native Stockholm, Sweden, and you still have to wonder if his head is truly in the right place. He’s fighting for the UFC belt, and his focus cannot be elsewhere than on the massive task of beating Cormier, who has only lost one fight in his career.
Is he motivated enough to beat the iron-willed Cormier? We’ll see.
4.) Lack of championship experience:
In truth, Gustafsson just hasn’t had all that much championship experience. Yes, he took Jones to the limit and nearly won the belt at UFC 165, but that was one fight and his only title fight.
Nothing should be taken away from Gustafsson for that masterful night; it was by all accounts one of the best in UFC history. But we know that the fight game moves fast, and the reality is that Gustafsson has had two fights since his fateful rivalry with Jones – a win over Jimi Manuwa and a loss to “Rumble.”
Cormier, meanwhile, has competed for a championship on every level of his athletic career. While he fell just short of reaching the pinnacle of wrestling in college and the Olympics, he has won two extremely prestigious titles in the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix and the UFC light heavyweight belt.
“DC” just has a huge edge in championship-level competition here.
3.) Lack of big wins:
Similar to the last reason, Gustafsson also does not have a long list of top-quality wins on his resume. His biggest victory was over an aging Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC on FOX 5 in 2012, and while he showed dangerous finishing ability as a younger UFC competitor (and against Manuwa, to be fair), he just doesn’t boast all that many great wins.
His biggest accolade came from a fight that he lost, and that’s something that Cormier has prodded at in the media on numerous occasions. It may be a bit harsh. It’s also true.
Gustafsson will have to shock the world with by far his biggest win if he’s to become UFC light heavyweight champion on Saturday night.
2.) Cage rust:
This potentially vital aspect of Gustafsson’s recent body of work hasn’t been talked about all that much despite the fact that it could play a big part in his performance against Cormier. He’s only fought the aforementioned two times in the time since the loss to Jones, and his fight bookings have been delayed by various ailments.
He almost had his coveted grudge match against Jones at UFC 178 last September, but a torn meniscus allowed Cormier to step in and start his now-infamous feud with “Bones,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Add “The Mauler’s” precious little recent cage time to the fact that he nearly retired after his last fight, and you can see why the odds are against him at UFC 192.
The final reason is the most glaring one, as Olympic wrestler Cormier most definitely has a sizeable edge on Gustafsson in the wrestling department.
“The Mauler” is no slouch, having surprisingly taken down NJCAA champion Jones early in their fight, yet Cormier will have no qualms about looking to close the distance and make this fight a grueling, grinding match from the clinch.
Gustafsson’s chance at victory will be more finesse-based as he attempts to keep his distance and out-strike Cormier. He probably won’t want to test himself on the mat against Cormier, as the champ has looked more than effective lately with vicious elbows and fight-ending chokes.
Couple that with Cormier’s ability to slug it out with almost any MMA fighter on the planet and the champion would seem to have not only more ways to transition both in to and out of his wrestling, but simply more ways to win the fight in general.
And there you have the basis for why many are picking Cormier to beat “The Mauler” with ease at UFC 192.
Do you agree?