Hometown hero Alexander Gustafsson scored an epic knockout win over Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night in Stockholm to confirm his position as the number one contender in the UFC light heavyweight division - then got engaged.
Gustafsson, who recently became a father, dominated the first round combining swift movement and precise striking to keep the 37-year-old Brazilian on the back foot.
With Teixeira’s sight hindered after an accidental eye poke, the Swede continued to exert pressure and landed a flurry of shots to knock down his opponent midway through round two.
Gustafsson knocked down his opponent again at the start of the third round and landed a series of telling elbows, but the veteran Brazilian showed tremendous resilience to recover.
The Swede known as ‘The Mauler’ still could not dislodge his opponent after four rounds.
However, a minute into the fifth and final round, Gustafsson landed two uppercuts and a right hook to end Teixeira’s brave stand and send the raucous Swedish crowd wild.
With Daniel Cormier defending his light heavyweight title against Jon Jones at UFC 214 in July, Gustafsson will now be vying with British fighter Jimi Manuwa for the next available shot at the 205lb title, despite previously losing title fights to both Jones and Cormier.
“I hit him with bombs and he took every shot, he’s a great fighter” said Gustafsson about Teixeira, before calling his girlfriend, Moa Antonia Johansson, into the octagon and proposing to her.
A great night for Gustafsson then, but Volkan Oezdemir is another man-to-watch in the light heavyweight division after a sensational knockout of Misha Cirkunov.
Ranked fifth in the division before the fight, Oezdemir countered a Cirkunov attack with a short right hand, knocking out the Latvian southpaw and ending the fight after just 28 seconds.
After announcing himself in the UFC by stepping up at short notice to beat title-contender Ovince Saint Preux in Houston back in February, the Swiss fighter claimed another stunning victory to end Cirkunov’s eight-fight winning streak.
“That’s the second time people were not thinking of me but, man, I’m here now!” said Oezdemir after his win.
Elsewhere on the main card, Poland’s Peter Sobotta secured an emphatic TKO win over the USA’s Ben Saunders in the welterweight division.
Saunders had won five of his previous six fights, but Sobotta stung the rangy American early before flooring him late in the first round with a powerful left hand.
Saunders recovered at end of the round and slowed things down on the mat but was rocked again by the Pole at the start of the second.
Sobotta continued to apply pressure with his strikes before grabbing the knockout with a powerful knee to the American’s chin midway through the round.
Abdul Razak Alhassan arrived in Stockholm with a reputation as a spectacular finisher, partly thanks to his devastating 53-second knockout over Charlie Ward at UFC Belfast in November.
His previous seven fights had a total fight time of just six minutes 31 seconds, but Alhassan endured a long and exhausting night in Stockholm at the hands of Russian Omari Akhmedov.
The welterweights traded heavy blows as the fight moved into the second round, uncharted territory for Alhassan.
The more experienced Akhmedov enjoyed the better of the wrestling exchanges and showed a granite chin in the third to repel the strikes of Alhassan.
Ultimately, Akhmedov’s ground game proved decisive. The Russian’s seven takedowns helped him to secure the win over his previously undefeated opponent by a split decision.
There were mixed results for Swedish fighters further down the card in front of a noisy home crowd.
Oliver Enkamp put in a spirited display against French veteran Nordine Taleb, after taking on the welterweight fight at short notice to replace the injured Emil Meek.
Enkamp, 25, made a strong start in the first round, before the experienced Frenchman took control in the second and Taleb stayed far enough out of trouble to win by unanimous decision, ending Enkamp’s unbeaten pro record.
Meanwhile, Swedish middleweight Jack Hermansson made short work of American Alex Nicholson, laying down some serious 'ground and pound' for a TKO victory after just two minutes of the first round.
“I have high ambitions, I want to be the best in the world, so give me the fights to prove that I am” said a delighted Hermansson after the fight.
There was also an impressive victory for English welterweight Darren Till over Germany's Jessin Ayari in the prelims.
The Liverpudlian put on a striking clinic to test the toughness of his opponent, and repeatedly threatened to end the fight earlier than the three-round distance.
However Till was forced to settle for a unanimous decision victory to maintain his unbeaten record with his second win in the UFC.
After the fight Till underlined his status as one-to-watch in the division by promising to win the welterweight title.
“Get me a fight tomorrow night, because I will fight. I am back, and I swear to God, I will win that belt”, he said.
Elsewhere in the prelims, Swedish welterweight Nico Musoke felt the full force of ‘Serbian Steel’ Bojan Velickovic.
Be warned the clip below does contain violent scenes.
Velickovic landed a crisp right hand in the third round to force a TKO with just 23 seconds remaining in the fight.
The punch proved the decisive moment in a close fight, although online fans were less than sympathetic to the beaten man.
You can read the full results from the UFC Stockholm undercard here.
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