Following a long three-week break after a UFC 158 card filled with decisions and knockouts—but no submissions—the promotion is kicking off another four-week run with UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Mousasi, set to take place this Saturday at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.

The main event of the evening is sure to be an exciting one, showcasing Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson fighting on his home turf against former Dream and Strikeforce titleholder Gegard Mousasi, who’s making his promotional debut. This battle of light heavyweights is sure to bring fireworks, as both men are close to title shots, and a win this weekend will certainly thrust one man into the title conversation.

Gustafsson is coming off a big decision win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in December, which marked the sixth victory in a row for the 26-year-old Swede. Currently, his only loss is to Phil Davis, which came in Gustafsson’s second UFC fight. On the other hand, Mousasi, at only 27 years of age, is definitely the veteran in the affair, but that’s with no UFC fights. To his credit, in his 38 fights, Mousasi has beaten many former and future UFC fighters. Born in Iran, but fighting out of the Netherlands, Mousasi is looking to make big waves in the UFC.

Let’s take a deeper look at the match-up. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another using similar scoring to the unified rules.

Striking: Gustafsson – 10, Mousasi – 10

Gustafsson (Sherdog)

When it comes to the striking game, the two fighters are more closely matched than in the other aspects of their respective games. Gustafsson is a Swedish amateur boxing champ, and Mousasi is a Dutch amateur boxing champ. Of course, their boxing runs were many years apart, with Mousasi winning his championship in 2001 and Gustafsson’s championship coming several years later.

Mousasi began boxing when he was only 15 years old, and by 16, he won a title. He has been a deadly striker for his entire MMA career. Of his 18 career knockouts, 16 came by way of his hands, with the other two being a knee and an upkick. On the defensive side, Mousasi holds significant victories over veteran strikers Mark Hunt and Hector Lombard. Even with a great striking background, in the last three years, his finish of choice has been the submission, which he has gone to in three of six fights.

Gustafsson began boxing even younger, at the age of 10. In 2006, he began his career in MMA. While Gustafsson doesn’t have nearly the miles and number of knockouts that his opponent does, he has a great run going in the UFC against top-level talent. In his last two fights, both in 2012, he went the distance with two veteran knockout artists, Shogun and Thiago Silva. If this doesn’t open people’s eyes to Gustafsson’s striking prowess, then nothing will. That was the same Shogun that traded with Dan Henderson for three rounds in the “Fight of the Century,” and yet Gustafsson out-battled him to the final bell.

With Mousasi sitting slightly below .500 in his knockout-total fight ratio and Gustafsson sitting just above .500, this one is a toss-up. Even though Gustafsson has faced some of the UFC’s best, Mousasi’s experience cannot be overlooked. Both men are extremely dangerous on their feet.

Ground Game: Gustafsson – 9, Mousasi – 10

Mousasi (top) (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner)

In terms of the technical ground game, Mousasi definitely holds a slight advantage. Since the age of 8, he has practiced judo, his original martial art of choice, and he now holds a black belt. In 2009, he was supposed to compete in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club championships, but he ended up withdrawing his registration. Still, ADCC is the top grappling event in the world, and he was going to perform after already having a successful 24-2-1 run as a pro MMA fighter. Mousasi has submitted 11 of his opponents, although one was a submission by strikes. He has only been submitted twice. In all of his other submission wins, he was able to showcase armbars, guillotines, triangles and a few rear-naked chokes, highlighting his well-rounded ground game.

Gustafsson is not quite at that level yet. The Swede’s biggest advantage is his additional four inches in height. He has proven numerous times that, while he may not be the most technically proficient grappler, he definitely uses his lanky body to his advantage. Currently holding a purple belt in BJJ, he has submitted a few guys, but only by rear-naked choke. Gustafsson is one of those guys that didn’t come in with a BJJ background, so he picked up the art out of necessity in the MMA arena. He did win a submission grappling tournament five years ago, but it was nothing compared to the ADCC level of competition.

For obvious reasons, if this one hits the mat, it could spell trouble for Gustafsson.

Wrestling: Gustafsson – 9, Mousasi – 10

Neither of these fighters really has a background in wrestling, unlike a lot of the American fighters. However, both men are able to stuff takedowns quite well. But it’s the control factor that gives Mousasi the edge.

With his tremendous background in judo and his strong build, Mousasi is able to harness the wrestling principles a bit better than Gustafsson. Whereas Gustafsson uses wrestling more as a defense only, Mousasi is able to use grappling skills to control opponents on the ground and hold them there for a good old-fashioned “little bro” beatdown.

Gustafsson’s size is really his only saving grace in the wrestling department, but Mousasi has fought tall guys before, so he should have no trouble out-controlling his opponent on the mat.


Mousasi clearly has the edge when it comes to ground control and grappling prowess, but Gustafsson’s size is always a variable that is tough to train for. He may not be quite as tallas Stefan Struve, but he is 6-foot-5 versus Mousasi’s 6-foot-1, which could pose some problems for the Dutchman. Mousasi is a great striker, but can he get close enough to do damage? Mousasi is great on the ground, but can he fend off Gustafsson’s long-limbed attacks? With both men riding hot winning streaks, this event is sure to deliver, and all of the questions will be answered this Saturday in Stockholm.

Total: Gustafsson – 28, Mousasi – 30

Verdict: With Gustafsson having suffered an alleged cut that jeopardized this fight and could pose problems once the cage door shuts, plus a more experienced opponent staring him down, Gustafsson’s best chance is to keep this one standing and use his range to keep distance. If, and when, Mousasi closes in and gets this one to the mat, look for him to submit the Swede by the end of round two.

Top Photo: Alexander Gustafsson (Sherdog)