UFC on Fuel TV: Silva seeks redemption against Gustafsson

Rob Nash looks ahead to the UFC light heavyweight bout between Thiago Silva and Alexander Gustafsson on Saturday

By Rob Nash

The UFC returns to Fuel TV on Saturday night in Stockholm, Sweden – and the event will be headlined by local favourite Alexander Gustafsson and controversial fighter Thiago Silva.

Thiago Silva v Alexander Gustafsson

Alex Gustafsson is a young, up and coming rising star of the 205 pound weight class with real potential. The 25-year-old is on a four fight winning streak and is a real threat in the UFC light heavyweight division following impressive victories over Vladimir Matyushenko and Matt Hamill.

Gustafsson is improving every time he fights and his aggressive style together with his athleticism and striking ability makes him a very exciting fighter.

The Swede will have the advantage of having the whole country on his side and a win over a top ten opponent would move him closer to his ultimate aim of challenging Jon Jones’ belt.

Thiago Silva is an aggressive fighter with knockout power in his hands and equally dangerous on the ground holding a black belt in jiu jitsu.

The Brazilian was never a fan favourite because of the lack of respect towards his opponents, and the controversy in his last fight against Brandon Vera certainly didn’t do him any favours.

He was found to have given a false urine sample in an attempt to hide the prohibited substances he had in his body at the time – his win was ultimately changed to a no contest and he was suspended for a year as punishment.

Silva was undefeated and his only two defeats were by former champions Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida. He still poses a threat in the division and he will look to return with an impressive performance over a worthy opponent such as Gustafsson.

Both these fighters are very skilled on the feet and the ground so it should make for a good fight and a very difficult one to predict.

Gustafsson has been moving up the rankings and mixing up his game while Silva is returning after a yearlong lay-off.

The native Swede will have a huge challenge on his hands but he could very well come out on top because of his recent performances.

Brian Stann v Alessio Sakara

This is a clash between two heavy-handed middleweights that could make for a real slug fest and possibly earn fight of the night.

Brian Stann, a former military leader, has come a long way in his mixed martial arts career showing real improvement in every fight. He was particularly impressive when he became only the second fighter to knockout Chris Leben – matching current middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s result against Leben.

The war veteran lost an opportunity to fight for the title when he suffered a loss at the hands of Chael Sonnen who emerged victorious after a lethal arm triangle choke in October 2011.

Stann is still widely considered by many to be the number three of the division and a win over Sakara would certainly leave him next in line to face the winner of Anderson Silva against Chael Sonnen.

Alessio Sakara has been competing in the sport since 2005 when he made his debut at UFC 55 and boasts notable wins over the likes of James Irwin and Thales Leites.

The Italian is coming off a loss against Chris Weidman where he was repeatedly taken down, displaying a real weakness in the wrestling. Now Sakara has the opportunity to showcase his striking ability once again as he takes on hard-hitting Stann.

This is will be the toughest fight he has faced and it will be interesting to see how he will counter the power advantage that Stann possesses. Will he stay on the outside and deliver some kicks and combinations, or will he try and mix up his game and look to take the fight to the ground?

Stann has faced much tougher competition and Sakara won’t be able to handle the raw power and all round fighting ability of the top middleweight contender.

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