It remains to be seen whether Alexander Gustafsson will ever reach the absolute peak of this division — but it does seem certain he’ll get another chance to do so.
Gustafsson (18-4) turned in a sensational performance in his native Stockholm on Sunday, knocking out Glover Teixeira at 1:07 of the fifth round. The bout headlined UFC Fight Night inside Ericsson Globe.
The final sequence was a work of art, as Gustafsson (18-4) snapped Teixeira’s head back with two uppercuts and then a powerful right hand. It capped off a dominant performance overall by the Swede, who has come up just short in two previous title challenges against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.
“He just took every shot,” said Gustafsson, on Teixeira’s durability. “He’s a great fighter, and it’s an honor to fight him in my hometown.”
Immediately after the fight, Gustafsson proposed to his girlfriend inside the Octagon. The couple recently celebrated the birth of a daughter.
Teixeira (26-6) showcased his heart and durability over the course of five rounds but very little else. Gustafsson had him badly hurt in the second, fourth and fifth round. According to Fightmetric, he out-landed the Brazilian in total strikes 108 to 62.
The right uppercut proved to be Gustafsson’s most effective weapon, and he used it regularly. It’s the same punch Anthony Johnson used to knock out Teixeira in just 13 seconds last August, and it seems Teixeira is still quite vulnerable to it.
Gustafsson scored points on the outside with his jab and front kick, and found an easy home with the right uppercut every time Teixeira tried to press forward. He also landed some wicked elbows and knees in the clinch, and wowed the Swedish crowd with a spinning back elbow in the second round that nearly produced a finish.
The 30-year-old Gustafsson famously took Jones to the brink of defeat in a five-round title fight in 2013. He did the same to Cormier in October 2015. Both times he came up just short on the scorecards.
Cormier (19-1) is scheduled to defend his title against Jones (22-1) at UFC 214 on July 29 in Anaheim, California. Gustafsson figures to be in contention to face the winner, along with his teammate and close friend Jimi Manuwa.
Coming into the weekend, ESPN.com ranked Gustafsson the No. 5 light heavyweight in the world. Teixeira and Manuwa were ranked Nos. 6 and 7, respectively.
Oezdemir collects huge upset KO over Canada’s Cirkunov
Cirkunov has been pegged as one of the most intriguing new talents at 205 pounds, but it was a disastrous night for him in Sweden. He came charging forward on Oezdemir with an early flurry but took a right hand directly behind the ear in the exchange.
That was all it took, as Cirkunov went face-first into the canvas. Oezdemir followed with shots but it was obvious Cirkunov wasn’t about to recover from the initial blow. It is the 10th knockout of Oezdemir’s career.
“This was the second time people were not thinking about me,” said Oezdemir, who upset Ovince Saint Preux in his UFC debut in February. “I’m here. Count on me.”
Betting odds had closed Cirkunov as a near 5-to-1 favorite. Cirkunov, of Latvia, had won his first four fights in the UFC coming into this meeting.