Alexander Gustafsson’s first fight since his devastating split decision loss to Daniel Cormier ended in victory, although it wasn’t exactly a massively convincing performance. Heavy underdog Jan Blachowicz gave Gustafsson a particularly tough first 5-6 minutes, but Gustafsson’s class and superior skills came through in the UFC Fight Night: Arlovski vs. Barnett co-main event.
Blachowicz was more than willing to trade with Gustafsson in the first 40 seconds. He tagged Gustafsson with some quality punches. A right hand and a left hook backed Gustafsson up. The 2x former title challenger was unsuccessful with his takedown. More good punches by the man from Poland. After a lull in the action in the clinch, the two separated, with Gustafsson noticeably marked up on the right side of his face. Good knee by Blachowicz. Plenty of struggle for Gustafsson but he relieved the pressure with an outside trip takedown. Heavy ground-and-pound by Gustafsson with sharp use of the elbows. Blachowicz ended the round on his back and eating strikes, but could have arguably had the advantage on the scorecards.
Great exchanges in the first few seconds of the 2nd, Blachowicz once again tagging Gustafsson hard. Unfortunately for Jan, Gustafsson easily secured a takedown and resumed pummeling Blachowicz with elbows.Jan’s head was cut and bloodied up. He tried to go for Gustafsson’s arms but Gustafsson was privy to that and held firm on his control from the top. Gustafsson stood up in the closing seconds and then dove back down to land a hard punch. He ended the 2nd in half guard and otherwise in much better shape than he was after the 1st.
Gustafsson connected with a lovely right hand that caught the attention of Jan. A stinging jab backed Blachowicz’s head up. Gustafsson ate a left hand before that and sure enough, back to the ground it went. The referee threatened a stand-up with 2 minutes left in the 3rd, with Gustafsson controlling and seeking to advance position. Bizarrely, the referee stood them back up. Gustafsson used a single leg and got the fight to the ground again. Whatever happened in round 2 just continued to happen in round 3. A clear-cut win for Gustafsson over a game Blachowicz, and it’s also Gustafsson’s first win since stopping Jimi Manuwa in 2014.
Official result: Alexander Gustafsson def. Jan Blachowicz via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
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