Thiago Silva entered into a hostile arena in Stockholm on Saturday night when he sought redemption for past controversies by taking out home favourite Alexander Gustafsson.
Unfortunately for Silva, he was unable to spoil the party in Sweden, losing at the hands of the very talented Gustafsson by a unanimous decision.
The rising star never looked better and emphatically beat the Brazilian, making good use of his range and footwork.
This was the 25-year-old’s toughest fight to date in front of a home crowd and his first main event in the UFC, so many thought the pressure could get to Gustafsson. But he silenced any doubters, outclassing his aggressive Brazilian opponent.
In the first round, Silva was stalking his opponent and looked to connect with a powerful overhand right but Gustafsson was alert to the 29-year-old’s tactic and he countered with a devastating uppercut that sparked celebration from the partisan crowd. Silva managed to get back to his feet though visibly hurt and bleeding over his forehead.
In the second round, Gustafsson easily tossed Silva to the ground and continued to avoid his punches by circling the octagon, displaying an unorthodox style which mirrored a tactic used by current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones – and it proved difficult for Silva as the Brazilian continued to be ambushed by a combination of punches and kicks.
The judges scored the fight 30-27 in favour of Gustafsson and his striking was superb – it would be interesting to see he would fare against an established wrestler such as Dan Henderson or Ryan Bader.
Brian Stann successfully climbed back to the top of the middleweight division with a first round knockout victory over Alessio Sakara.
Prior to the fight, much of the discussion centred on Stann’s power and it took two minutes for the 31-year-old to assert his superiority with two vicious knees that dropped Sakara to the mat.
The Italian fighter managed to defend himself and temporary pull guard, hoping to stop the onslaught. But it didn’t stop the ex-military leader from surging forward on the attack as he delivered two short punches that left Sakara unconscious.
Stann is certainly the most powerful striker in the division and after finishing such a dangerous opponent in such emphatic fashion, it puts him in line to either face the winner of Anderson Silva versus Chael Sonnen – a title bout – or perhaps Michael Bisping for a number one contender ship bout.
Either way Stann is en route to becoming a dominant force of the division.
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