The main event of UFC 192 is a battle between UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson. Cormier won the championship after submitting Anthony Johnson in a fight to determine the new champion, as longtime champion Jon Jones was stripped of his title earlier in the year due to legal issues. Gustafsson, on the other hand, was brutally knocked out in his last appearance by Johnson, which makes him getting a title shot a bit odd. Nevertheless, these two elite fighters will throw down this Saturday night (October 3, 2015) with the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship on the line. Daniel Cormier (16-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC, -340 favorite) After years of failing in several high-level competitions, Cormier final realized his dream and became the UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion when he submitted Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 in May. The former Olympic wrestler is the team captain and wrestling coach of the American Kickboxing Academy, which is home to several elite fighters like Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold. While most of Cormier’s game plans are centered on him using his wrestling and grinding out his opponent for a decision or finding a submission along the way, he also has deceptively fast hands and mixes up his combinations well. The problem, however, is he is very short for the division and is always at a reach and height disadvantage. That will be an even bigger factor in this fight, as Gustafsson is one of the tallest and longest light heavyweights on the roster and has a six inch height and seven inch reach advantage over him. “DC” is able to negate these problems most of the time because he closes the distance very fast. From there he can get in on his opponent’s legs and secure a takedown. From top position he stays very heavy and has a decent back take and rear-naked choke. Additionally, Cormier is very strong in the clinch and is adept at pressing his opponents against the fence and controlling them. Cormier is also 36 years old, so there is a question of how much longer he has left in the sport, although he’s showed no signs of slowing down thus far. Alexander Gustafsson (16-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC, +280 underdog) There were several critics that did not like the idea of Gustafsson getting a title shot after getting knocked out in his last fight. Many think the shot should have gone to Ryan Bader, who is on a four-fight win streak. Prior to his loss to Johnson, Gustafsson defeated Jimi Manuwa by knockout and gave Jon Jones his toughest fight to date. Gustafsson’s game revolves around his long, lanky frame and great footwork and movement. He cuts angles well and has some of the best boxing and combination punching in the division. “The Mauler” will try to stay on the outside and use his height and reach advantages so that he can throw combinations and quickly angle away, which will make it difficult for Cormier to grab onto him and drag him to the canvas or get him in the clinch. This will be tougher than it sounds, as Cormier is relentless and does not get deterred if one or two of his takedowns are stuffed. The area where Gustafsson has improved the most is actually his wrestling and grappling. He has trained extensively with Phil Davis for a few years now and both his offensive and defensive wrestling have gotten significantly better. He is not much of an offensive submission threat, but he is at least capable in that area. Thoughts I had the same reaction as most people when the UFC announced this fight. I figured Ryan Bader would get the shot since he had the longest winning streak in the division and just beat a top contender in Phil Davis. Cormier and Bader were actually booked to fight in June, but Cormier was pulled from the contest to fight for the title when Jones was stripped of his belt. As for this matchup, I don’t see Gustafsson having much success in keeping Cormier off of him, especially over five rounds. He did good defending takedowns against Jon Jones, but I do not believe that was the Jon Jones that we usually see in the Octagon. Cormier closes the distance quickly, so Gustafsson will have to use constant lateral movement and put his combinations together to keep Cormier at bay. I just don’t see it happening. I believe Cormier will dominate the fight in the clinch and in top position and either win a clear decision or find a rear-naked choke in the later rounds. The Prediction: Daniel Cormier defeats Alexander Gustafsson by unanimous decision
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