In the never ending search to find a suitable challenger for reigning UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones, many have begun to mention Alexander Gustafsson as a possible candidate.

But is the Swedish born fighter a contender? Or just simply another pretender?

The honest answer is “we will have to wait and see.” It may sound like a cop-out, but in order to properly judge Gustaffson’s place in the division, it is the most accurate.

The Swedish fighter made his UFC debut in impressive fashion via KO in under a minute at UFC 105. Gustafsson brought with him an impressive 9-0 record into his next bout with rising prospect Phil Davis.

Davis, a NCAA Division I wrestling champion at Penn State, struggled to bring Gustafsson down but would eventually secure a submission victory with just five seconds remaining in the first round.

Gustafsson realized he needed to work on completing his MMA game and flew out to California to train at The Alliance Gym with Davis.

The extra work with top-level training partners seems to have paid off as Gustafsson has now won four straight fights, two by KO and two by submission.

His latest two victories were particularly impressive. Gustafsson defeated veterans Matt Hamill and Vladimir Matyushenko in dominant fashion.

Following the Matyushenko victory, fans were particularly interested in seeing how the young prospect would match up against Jones. Gustafsson has similar physical attributes, standing at 6-foot-5 with a 76-inch reach.

We will finally see Gustafsson face off against an upper-level light heavyweight when he takes on Thiago Silva at the UFC on Fuel TV 2 event on April 14. Originally scheduled to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Gustafsson now faces a more explosive opponent in Silva.

Silva is a fighter who brings it every time he steps in the Octagon and has serious striking skills to go with an accomplished ground game. Silva will challenge Gustafsson in every facet of the game.

It will be interesting to see how the Swede responds to the pressure Silva will put on him. If he can manage to defeat Silva, Gustafsson could find himself in Dana White’s infamous “mix” for a title shot.

After Rashad Evans and a potential match-up with Dan Henderson, Jones will have few challengers left should he defend his title on each occasion.  Of course if Jones drops the belt we could see Gustafsson’s title prospects be placed on hold as Jones will likely receive a rematch within one fight or less.

Gustafsson is an intriguing prospect that should be brought along slowly. Fans are still enjoying the dominant champion that is Jones and the UFC could always groom Gustafsson into the next champion should Jones leave for the heavyweight division as he’s discussed in the past.

An impressive showing against Silva will open a lot of fans’ eyes, but they should hold back on rushing Gustafsson to a title shot.

Photo: Alexander Gustafsson (Sherdog)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.