UFC on FOX 5: Rua vs. Gustafsson Saturday, December 8 – 9:00 p.m. ET
Key Arena – Seattle, WA
Mauricio Rua (21-6) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (14-1) Light heavyweight bout
Line: Gustafsson -220, Rua +170
In a critical light heavyweight eliminator bout, Mauricio Rua will take on Alexander Gustafsson on the main card of Saturday’s UFC on FOX 5 lineup.
Gustafsson has just one career loss and has won five consecutive fights, all in UFC, including his most recent one against Thiago Silva. Those five fights have demonstrated his flexibility in the Octagon—the win against Silva was a decision, but the other four were comprised of two TKOs and two submissions. Rua is a former UFC light heavyweight champion, winning the belt in 2010, but he was unable to defend it, with Jon Jones taking it in the next bout. Since then, he has gone 2-1, with wins over Forrest Griffin and Brandon Vera and a loss to Dan Henderson. There is no denying Rua’s power. His past six wins have been knockouts. But Gustafsson has been too consistent and at 6-foot-5, he owns a massive four-inch height advantage over Rua. Take GUSTAFSSON as the favorite here.
At 6-foot-1, Rua packs a mean punch—18 of his 21 career wins have been knockouts. His aggressive fighting style often sets him up to win fights early, but it also often leaves him vulnerable to getting attacked. His defense rates evidence that, as he avoids just 49% of incoming strikes and 26% of takedowns. His Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu are among the best in the sport, with strikes forming the base of his attacking style. But his weak defenses should be exploitable by somebody as talented as Gustafsson, who rarely makes mistakes. Rua certainly has a chance to win this and earn another shot at the belt, but the odds need to be longer to justify playing on him.
Gustafsson is among the tallest in this weight class and it pays off in the Octagon where he regularly towers over his opponents and uses that advantage to gain leverage. His last win, against Silva, was an encouraging one because it showed his patience against an aggressive fighter, outlasting the top-notch fighter for a unanimous decision. This fight, however, will likely not go to the final bell, given Rua’s uber-aggressive tactics. And Gustafsson’s strong stand-up skills should fare well against that, putting him in a position to earn a knockout or submission when Rua lets up his guard for the inevitable attack.