The Ericson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden is more synonymous for nights of enthralling ice hockey action. However, for one night only this arena will play host to some of the most compelling UFC matchups in recent memory.
The main event will see Swedish hero, Alexander Gustafsson take on Anthony Smith; with both fighters looking to put disappointing results behind them. Meanwhile, Ilir Latifi will do battle with Volkan Oezdemir, and the imposing Aleksandar Rakic will look to continue his fine start in the UFC with another victory of Jimi Mauwa.
Alexander Gustafsson vs Anthony Scott
This night of UFC action is far better on paper than most events that the company stage in Europe and the main card just highlights that. All three fights are light-heavyweight bouts, and all have something on the line.
Gustafsson will be looking to play off the home crowd advantage against Smith to avenge his recent defeat at the hands of Jon Jones. Of course, there is no shame in losing to Jones, and the loss was more to do with his brilliance than a poor performance on the night from the Swede. Jones prepared for that bout meticulously and ensured that Gustafsson couldn’t play to his boxing ability. That is something that Smith won’t do. In fact, he will do the polar opposite and look for a fist-fight in the middle of the octagon.
Everything plays into the Swede’s hands in this bout. He is superior against opponents who aren’t tactically acute or finesse on their feet he can shine. Let’s not forget he has one of the best jabs in the UFC period. If things do get tricky for him in front of his home fans then he can utilise his ground game; which is underrated, to say the least. This was highlighted in his bout against Jan Blachowicz. The Pole couldn’t deal with the Swede on the floor, and everybody who has watched Smith knows that this is where he struggles.
Smith does come in with a moderate run of form. After being beaten by Thiago Santos in early 2018, he demonstrated just how good he can be with wins over the experienced duo of Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua. However, this streak came to an end after a defeat to Jones in March. The task ahead of him in the Swedish capital is a big one, but he will go in there will a chance; albeit a small one. His lack of technical striking power will play into the hands of Gustafsson, and the Swede will win this in front of his home crowd.
Gustafsson will win this pretty comfortably in the end, and that is highlighted by BetXChange pricing him as the 0.30 heavy favourite to win this bout. The Swede will be keen to get back to winning ways, and he will be happy to take the win via decision in Stockholm.
Ilir Latifi vs Volkan Oezdemir
This battle between the Swiss and Swedish challengers has a real European feel to it. And a win for Latifi will get the Swedish crowd further pumped up ahead of the main event. Oezdemir is a solid striker with limited power and is defensively sound, while Latifi is the opposite. This will make for an interesting bout, but the fact that the Swede has only been knocked out twice means that the feeling is that he will outlast his Swiss opponent and win on points.
Aleksandar Rakic vs Jimi Mauwa
This should be a thrilling encounter between an up-and-comer in Rakic who is looking to break into the top ten, and Mauwa who effectively needs to win to remain in the title picture. Rakic is unbeaten during his time in UFC, but he is yet to come up against a fighter of the calibre as London-based Mauwa. The Brit has been dropped in his last three bouts, and with Rakic’s power that is a worry. Should it turn into a technical striking fight then the pick would be Mauwa, but the chances are that will likely be a brawl. And that will favour Rakic.