This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC on FOX 14. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. 1. Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones – UFC 165 Upcoming Bout: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Johnson
There really isn’t any other pick for Gustafsson, as Jones is the only top fighter he’s really faced in his career. Despite being just one of two career losses for the Swede, his performance in this bout is what has many ranking him as the second-best 205er in the world and what has convinced the betting public he will defeat Johnson. If he’s able to use the angles that he showed in the Jones fight, he could have even more success against ‘Rumble’, but he has to be far more wary of Johnson’s striking than any other opponent he’s faced in his MMA career. One other advantage the Jones fight will afford Gustafsson is his experience in high-profile bouts and going 25 minutes in a hotly contested affair. With how dangerous Johnson is early, it may be smart for the Swede to take this fight to deeper waters.
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2. Anthony Johnson vs. Andrei Arlovski – WSOF 2 Upcoming Bout: Anthony Johnson vs. Alexander Gustafsson
This was a strange bout from the moment it was announced, but it’s a good example of the good and bad of Anthony Johnson. The good is obviously his devastating striking early in bouts. He also has very good takedown defense at the beginning of fights. This encounter with Arlovski accentuates his bad qualities a bit though, as due to carrying some extra weight (he weighed in for the bout at 230lbs), he slows noticeably and gets sloppy in the third round. His gas tank has looked better when he’s actually at 205, but I don’t expect him to keep up with Gustafsson if this bout reaches the fourth or fifth round. The other bad quality about ‘Rumble’ that isn’t shown in this fight is his submission defense. However, to his credit, Johnson hasn’t given anyone a chance to exploit that part of his game since moving up to light heavyweight. If he can continue that trend in the first few rounds against Gustafsson, he has a real shot to land something big and pull off an upset in Saturday’s main event.
3. Albert Tumenov vs. Yasubey Enomoto – Fight Nights: Battle of Moscow 13 Upcoming Bout: Albert Tumenov vs. Nico Musoke
I had to get a Tumenov bout in here because the young Russian is such an incredible striker. He moves fluidly, strings together excellent combinations, and has some of the most effortless head kicks in all of MMA. We saw a great example of those kicks in his last UFC appearance against Matt Dwyer, and while the head kick he landed against Yasubey Enomoto in the fight that got him to the UFC isn’t nearly as clean, he shows off his other excellent striking traits in this bout. Like Enomoto, Musoke stands tall in the cage and is a bit clunky with his movement, so we could see another example of Tumenov’s striking getting the job done quickly, upsetting the hometown crowd.
4. Konstantin Erokhin vs. Mychal Andryszak – Fight Nights: Battle of Moscow 16 Upcoming Bout: Konstantin Erokhin vs. Viktor Pesta
Aside from his pro debut and a 15-minute decision victory over Brett Rogers, all of Konstantin Erokhin’s bouts are essentially the same. There’s actually a highlight that shows each of Erokhin’s eight first round (T)KO victories and encapsulates his career fairly well. He doesn’t throw many strikes — several of his bouts open with prolonged periods of feinting — but he is accurate and hits extremely hard. The Andryszak victory isn’t his most impressive from a name perspective, but Andryszak most closely represents the dimensions of his upcoming opponent, Viktor Pesta. Andryszak also shows that Erokhin knows what to do when a fighter comes at him aggressively, as he keeps distance well until he finds a hole to counter in. It doesn’t take long, and that could be exactly how his UFC debut plays out in Stockholm.
5. Mirsad Bektic vs. Joe Pearson – VFC 41 Upcoming Bout: Mirsad Bektic vs. Paul Redmond
With just six pro fights to his name, Mirsad Bektic stepped in against Joe Pearson, a former WEC title challenger who brought a 43-18 record into the bout. Bektic dispatched Pearson in just 92 seconds, and helped cement his status as one of MMA’s top prospects. It’s hard to tell from this fight, but the Bosnian does a lot of things right on the feet, and striking is by far the weakest part of his game. Where he truly shines (as shown in this fight) is when he gets in top control. He has a very strong base and delivers a lot of damage even when in his opponent’s guard. I expect Bektic to get his fight against Paul Redmond to the ground whenever he wants in his upcoming bout, and deliver some shots to the Irishman en route to his second UFC victory.
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