26 Jan Rumbling Effect: Anthony Johnson Blasts Alexander Gustafsson out of Tele2 Arena
Everything can change from one second to the next and Alexander Gustafsson learned it the hard way.
The towering Swede lost his shot at the light heavyweight title when Anthony “Rumble” Johnson bludgeoned him in his own backyard at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, Sweden for UFC on Fox 14. North of 30,000 fans watched in disbelief as Johnson delivered a beating to Gustafsson like no one ever did before.
Fans have come to appreciate what Gustafsson offers to the table: a crisp and very methodical striker with a reach that can nearly rival that of current UFC 205-lb kingpin Jon Jones. He did gave “Bones” the fight of his life, basically putting the champ in a stretcher after the grueling five-round war in UFC 165 at Ontario, Canada. At the time, “The Mauler” lost the fight but won the battle, earning the respect of MMA pundits all around as the man who gave Jones the toughest go in the latter’s stellar seven-year career.
But Saturday night, Gustafsson has met the arduous test yet in his career but he fell short in the most astonishing way possible. “Rumble” did basically everything that he wanted, closed the distance, landed a short right hand by the ear and that was the beginning of the end for the Swede.
After a short stoppage due to an accidental eye poke, Johnson went to work right away by countering a Gustafsson high kick with a hard right of his own. Johnson went in pursuit, landed a left high kick that got Gustafsson off-balanced, and by the time the Blackzilians standout had the Swede in a fetal position on the ground, it was only a matter of time before the finish.
Referee Marc Goddard gave Gustafsson every opportunity to recover but the overwhelming barrage dished out by Johnson forced him to stop the fight 2:15 into the first round.
Johnson’s scary raw power was in full display that night and despite all the previous first-round finishes, this one came with considerable weight. What everyone thought as a wasted talent (missed weight four times, thrice in the UFC) is now only one punch away from UFC gold.
“Jon Jones, I hope you get well brother,” Johnson addressed the UFC champ in the customary post-fight interview. “Let’s get this championship fight on and make them proud and get the fans excited about this.
Gustafsson, 28, was in tears following the painful defeat and admitted he got caught with a punch he couldn’t easily recover with. There will always be winners and losers in every game and in a combat sport like MMA, it’s all the more common to see brutal finishes. However, every time Johnson steps on a cage, those knockouts happen more often than not.
In nine straight victories since a submission loss to Vitor Belfort three years ago, “Rumble” have displaced seven opponents via KO/TKO, the last two inside the very first round. If a Jones-Johnson tiff comes to fruition, it will be a very interesting bout, to say the least, given Jones’ penchant to play up to the strength of his foes.
Against a mack-truck hitter like Johnson, that may not be the best idea and “Rumble” isn’t shy about letting Jones know.
“I think I’ll be the hardest puncher that he’s ever faced,” Johnson said via MMA Weekly. “Hopefully I can just do things that nobody else has done to him. Alexander gave him the worst beating he’s ever had. Hopefully I can give one 10 times worse.
“I never come into a fight with any type of emotion. This is just what I love to do and I have fun with it. I don’t have anything against Jon. This is what we do and we’re good at it. We’re both alpha males, so we just want to keep winning.”
Anthony Johnson may have just been settling as a light heavyweight after ill-advised ventures in the lower classes (and at heavyweight too, at one time). He is home now and that could mean bad news for Jon Jones.
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