UFC 133 may be a cursed show but Alexander Gustafsson received a break of good fortune when his original opponent Vladimir Matyushenko was replaced by the higher profile Matt Hamill, so giving the young Swede the chance to make a name for himself against the TUF3 standout.
Gustafsson has looked impressive during his short stint in the UFC, with his tenure being highlighted by dominating wins in the UK and Australia where he blew away overmatched opposition quickly. The one blemish on his record came at the hands of the man originally scheduled to main event in Philadelphia – Phil Davis.
However while Davis eventually did get him down to the ground, Gustafsson showed impressive levels of takedown defense and working with amongst others Mr. Wonderful himself has improved his wrestling since UFC 112. Gustafsson has rightly been highlighted as a prospect for the future, with dynamic striking and genuine finishing skills on the ground. At 11-1 he’s looking for a breakthrough fight against a name opponent, a fact that led Rich Franklin to turn down facing the young and hungry fighter when both their original fights fell through.
Instead on three weeks’ notice Matt Hamill took the fight, a bold move considering that he was coming off a crushing loss to Quinton Jackson in the main event of UFC 130. While he survived until the final bell, Hamill showed little against a subpar Rampage who was able to keep the fight standing and dominate with superior striking. It’s that nightmarish performance that Hamill must seek to avoid when he faces Gustafsson, a fighter with good enough striking to punish Hamill if he cannot get the fight to the ground.
Gustasfsson’s previous fights, particularly the one against Davis, certainly suggest that it won’t be easy for Hamill and the height advantage enjoyed by the Swede may help him keep away from the Hammer’s takedowns by allowing to fight tall. But more likely what will stop Hamill getting the takedown is that he’ll be pushed back the ferocious assault of a fighter desperate to make the most of their unexpected opportunity. Gustafsson has finished fights quickly and this will most likely be no exception. With Alexander Gustafsson making his stateside debut in this match one has to think that he has the power and explosiveness to make it a victorious one.