Alexander Gustafsson’s last fight in his native Sweden resulted in one of the worst nights of his life.
He more than made up for it with the return visit Sunday.
Not only did Gustafsson secure his spot as the next in line to challenge for the UFC light heavyweight title, his proposal to his girlfriend was accepted in the cage after he knocked out Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC Fight Night 109 in Stockholm.
Gustafsson consistently found a home for his right uppercut throughout the fight, though he was having trouble putting Teixeira away. That changed early in the fifth round when Gustafsson blasted him with three consecutive uppercuts and then put Teixeira away with a right hook.
“I hit him with bombs and he took every shot,” Gustafsson said. “He’s a great fighter and it was an honor to fight him.
“My uppercut worked and I was working my elbows and knees. It was just my day today.”
He decided to share the moment with his girlfriend Moa, who gave birth to the couple’s first daughter just two weeks ago.
It was certainly a far better experience for Gustafsson than when he headlined the UFC’s last card in Sweden in January 2015 and was unceremoniously knocked out by Anthony Johnson in the first round.
Gustafsson hopes the performance in the win over Teixeira will be enough to earn him another shot at the belt against the winner of July’s title bout between former champion Jon Jones and current champ Daniel Cormier.
Gustafsson has lost close decisions to both fighters in title bouts, but believes he has done enough to be next in line once again.
“I really hope so,” he said.
He may have some new company as a light heavyweight contender.
Volkan Oezdemir needed just 28 seconds to knock out rising star Misha Cirkunov with a short right hand behind the ear. He is now 2-0 in the UFC with a pair of wins over highly-ranked opponents.
“My first fight was a shock for me, just being in the UFC was a shock,” Oezdmir said of his win over Ovince Saint Preux in February. “ But after that first fight, a lot of things changed in my mind. I knew what I needed to do. I’m so focused on my career now and I’m going to continue to put 100 percent of my focus on it. This is the second time that people have doubted me. I don’t care about being the underdog because it gives me more fuel to prove everybody wrong. It’s all about the day of the fight and what you can do.”
He hopes to get a fight against Jimi Manuwa to essentially determine who falls next in line behind Gustafsson.
Also on the card, Peter Sobotta knocked out welterweight Ben Saunders in the second round after landing a crushing knee and Jack Hermansson stopped middleweight Alex Nicholson just 2:00 into the first round with a series of punches.
Welterweights Omari Akhmedov and Nordine Taleb picked up decision wins on the main card.
Taleb spoiled Oliver Enkamp’s UFC debut by taking a unanimous decision.
Akhmedov handed Abdul Razak Alhassan the first loss of his career as he captured a split decision. Alhassan had knocked out his first seven opponents within the first 90 seconds, but Akhmedov wore him down with seven takedowns and left Alhassan seeking a different path to victory.
“I am very disappointed in myself because I feel like I could have thrown more punches and more kicks but I was holding back,” Alhassan said. “He’s a very tough fighter because I know I hit him with everything I had. A few of the shots I thought were going to stop him from coming back but they didn’t. Now I will go back to training and correct my mistakes so that it doesn’t happen again because losing sucks.”
Alhassan actually won rounds two and three on one scorecard, while Akhmedov was awarded all three rounds on the other two cards.
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