Mixed Martial Arts is one of the world’s fastest growing sports and its biggest promotion is now coming to Scandinavia.
By Brian Mallon
The UFC has this week announced that they are coming to Sweden and that a local rising star will headline the country’s first such event. Alexander Gustafsson will star in the 14th April Ericsson Globe arena fighting extravaganza in Stockholm. The 24 year-old from Arboga will be tasked with defeating highly ranked light heavyweight contender Rogerio “Lil Nog” Nogueira in a bout that could put him in the upper echelons of the light heavyweight division. The 1.95m Gustafsson defeated respected veteran Vladimir Matyushenko in his last outing at UFC141 in December and looks set for a long career, if he can continue his momentum.
MMA in Scandinavia in general, and Sweden in particular, is booming. With a young, media-savvy fan base this vibrant sport has captured the imagination of the region’s many fight fans. With this high profile event on the horizon and Gustafsson’s career progressing at such a pivotal time, he could be best positioned to spearhead the promotions entry into the waiting Scandinavian market.
In other UFC news the promotion’s highly anticipated “UFC on Fox” card is fast approaching. If you asked a selection of industry observers and UFC fans who the most explosive and talented current UFC fighter never to hold championship gold is… the name Melvin Guillard would feature prominently.
“The Young Assassin” has exhibited enormous potential and athletic prowess in his surge through the UFC’s shark infested lightweight waters. Something in Guillard’s tool belt is missing, however but it is not of a physical nature. Of the many assets needed to be victorious in any sport, mental toughness and poise under pressure are often labelled as the innate intangibles that an athlete must display in the white heat of battle. This is where the 28 year-old New Orleans native has been found distinctly lacking. Guillard is sometimes overly confident, bordering on contemptuous towards his Octagon opponents when fight time arrives. Prior to UFC136 in Houston, talk within the MMA world was not if Guillard would be champion but rather a question of when. After a mere 47 seconds of a fight he was predicted to dominate, Guillard was again left wondering where it all went wrong. The brief bout was a microcosm of a career which has proven electrifying and frustrating in equal measure.
Next Saturday night the likeable knock-out artist will be well served not to take his opponent, fellow 70kg contender Jim Miller for granted. Miller is as tough as they come and with an unrivalled work ethic and cardio to burn he may well hold the mental kryptonite to the Greg Jackson student’s title aspirations once again.
UFC on Fox can be viewed on ESPNUK on Saturday 21st January
This article written by Irish sports journalist Brian Mallon