The main event of UFC on FOX 14 is a five-round light heavyweight bout between Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Gustafsson is a -225 favorite (bet $225 to win $100) while Johnson is a +185 underdog (bet $100 to win $185). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Gustafsson at -190 and Johnson at +150, and the early public action is on Gustafsson. I agree with the action on Gustafsson, as I think he will win this fight. Here’s why. Gustafsson (16-2) is one of the elite light heavyweights fighters in MMA. The 27-year-old Swede is 8-2 in the UFC with wins over Jimi Manuwa, Shogun Rua, Thiago Silva, James Te Huna, Cyrille Diabate, Matt Hamill, Jared Hamman and Vladimir Matyushenko, with his only losses coming to Jon Jones and Phil Davis. Gustafsson is an exceptionally well-rounded fighter. On the feet he is a dynamic striker who uses all of his long limbs to deliver accurate and impactful blows, his wrestling is very solid and underrated, and he also has a very good and improving ground game. His chin has looked great in MMA and he has solid cardio as well. Gustafsson was literally a round away from taking the title from Jones when they met at UFC 165 and with a win over Johnson, he will get another crack at the champ. He has homefield advantage for this fight with it being in Sweden, and we’ve seen him feed off the hometown crowd in the past. There’s no doubt Johnson is a stiff test, but it’s a test that Gustafsson should pass, and that’s why you see him enter the fight as the favorite. Johnson (18-4) moved up to light heavyweight in 2012 after numerous weight-cutting mishaps at welterweight and middleweight got him cut from the UFC, and the results speak for themselves. Since originally being cut from the UFC following a submission loss to Vitor Belfort at UFC 142, the 30-year-old American has gone 8-0 with wins over Phil Davis, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Mike Kyle, Andrei Arlovski and David Branch, to name a few. Johnson is an exceptional striker with devastating knockout power (12 career T/KO wins), solid wrestling skills, and a good chin. He should have never fought at welterweight and middleweight, and you have to wonder where he would be in his career right now had he not been cutting all that unnecessary weight in years past. I am high on Johnson and have been betting on him throughout his recent run, but it’s easy to forget that even though he has looked like a different fighter at 205lbs, this is still the same guy who was choked out by Josh Koscheck and Rich Clementi. There’s no doubt Johnson has power and he absolutely has a puncher’s chance against Gustafsson, but all things considered, this is a difficult matchup for him, and it makes sense he is the underdog heading into the bout. Johnson has looked fantastic since moving up to light heavyweight and I think he’s finally found his proper weight class, but Gustafsson is just a bad matchup for him as he is similarly-skilled but also has a size advantage. I do consider Johnson to be a top-five light heavyweight but to me, Gustafsson is right behind Jones. He showed in the Jones fight that he has exceptional striking, underrated wrestling, and a great chin, and he reaffirmed in the Manuwa fight that he is a complete mixed martial artist with a fantastic ground game and devastating knockout power. I like Johnson and he brings a lot to the table, but I don’t think he has the tools needed to beat Gustafsson. In fact, I think the only fighter that does is Jones. I think Gustafsson is going to shine in this fight, and I see him winning it inside of five rounds. We’ve seen Johnson submitted before, and I think Gustafsson winning by submission is likely, but it wouldn’t shock me if he knocked Johnson out. Either way, I see him getting his hand raised. At -210 I see value in Gustafsson as I believe he should be an even higher favorite in this matchup and I would say he is worth betting on.
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