Say what you will about the legitimacy of the UFC’s current light heavyweight title belt, Daniel Cormier earned that belt. Cormier earned that belt by defeating the most dangerous light heavyweight in the world in impressive fashion. Until Jon Jones can get his personal life back in order this is Cormier’s division.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, at UFC 192 in Houston, Cormier will look to defend his title for the first time against savvy challenger Alexander Gustafsson. Gustafsson may be coming off of a devastating loss to the aforementioned Johnson, but make no mistake, Gustafsson is the real deal.

Between his rangy striking, his deceptive power and his underrated grappling, Gustafsson is one of the most compete fighters in the light heavyweight division today. But as good as Gustafsson is, Cormier is better and he has all of the tools necessary to retain his title.

Close the Distance

Having competed in the heavyweight division, Cormier is used to fighting bigger, taller men. But just because he is used to it, doesn’t mean Cormier can discount just how important reach is in a fight. Gustafsson will have a seven inch reach advantage on Saturday night and he fully understands how to use that reach; he also has a great jab which makes that reach even more effective.

Cormier needs to close the distance, but he can’t just put his head down and charge in. He did that against Johnson and his ate some big shots because of it. If he tries to do that on Saturday, Gustafsson will make him pay. Cormier will need to strike his way in and utilize level changes.

Make the Fight a Grind

There is a say that is prevalent in the wrestling community and it will be an important component to Cormier’s game at UFC 192, “Embrace the Grind”. Cormier needs to clinch, pressure and press Gustafsson; Cormier needs to embrace the grind.

When you get beat the way that Gustafsson got beat in his last fight, it can take a tool on a fighter mentally. Cormier needs to feed on that weakness and look to break Gustafsson’s will with his constant and unrelenting pressure.

Takedowns, Takedowns, Takedowns

Cormier’s striking game has come a long way over the year, but he is still not on Gustafsson’s level on the feet. The longer this fight stays on the feet, the more opportunities Gustafsson will have to take control of the exchanges; Cormier needs to put Gustafsson on his back over and over and over again.

The more takedowns Cormier can secure, the more hits Gustafsson’s psyche will take. Eventually, Gustafsson will be broken and Cormier will be able to go in for the finish. That’s what he did with Johnson and that’s exactly what he will do with Gustafsson.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.