The final installment of the UFC’s Fight Island series will take place this weekend at the Flash Forum in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whitaker takes on former UFC welterweight title challenger Darren Till in the five-round main event. Meanwhile, former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua fights Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for the third time in the co-main event. In the third fight of the day, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum welcomes former UFC 205-pound title challenger Alexander Gustafsson to the heavyweight division in the third bout of the evening.
Werdum and Gustafsson are both coming off back to back losses and they both have lost back fights heading to this contest. The winner between Werdum and Gustafsson will get back on the winning track while the loser will go down with a third straight defeat.
Let’s take a look at the matchup between these two high-profile fighters:
Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum
Fabricio Werdum is a four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and the former UFC heavyweight champion. The 42-year-old from Porto Alegre in Rio Grande do Sol in Brazil has competed for Jungle Fight, PRIDE, and Strikeforce before coming to the UFC. Vai Cavalo is regarded as one of the best heavyweight fighters of all-time. He owns notable wins over Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt, Antonio Silva, Roy Nelson, Minotauro Nogueira, and Alexander Emelianenko.
The former heavyweight champion stands 6-4 tall with a reach of 74 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. He won his first six UFC bouts before losing the belt to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198. Since losing the belt, Werdum has been 3-3 in his last six bouts and he heads to Fight Island coming off back to back losses against Alexander Volkov and Aleksei Oleinik. Werdum’s overall record is 23-9 with six knockouts and 11 wins via submission.
Werdum lands an average of 3.61 significant strikes per minute with a 52% striking accuracy. Vai Cavalo gets hit by an average of 2.62 significant strikes per minute with a 55% striking defense. On the ground, Werdum completes an average of 1.71 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 31% accuracy and a takedown defense of 31%. The Brazilian averages 1.1 submissions per 15 minutes.
Vai Cavalo is one of the most accomplished grapplers in the history of the UFC. He owns a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and Muay Thai. He is most effective when he gets his hands on his opponent and takes the fight to the ground or when he pins them against the cage. He throws nasty elbows and knees in the clinch while his striking has improved over the years. The thing to take note of Werdum is that he is almost 43 years old and he was recently banned for two years due to a drug violation.
Odds were taken from BetOnline as of 07/24/2020
Alexander “The Swedish Mauler” Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson was a three-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger and the #7 ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. Gustafsson challenged Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier for the 205-pound belt, losing a decision in both bouts which were awarded Fight of the Night honors. Gustafsson announced his retirement after losing to Anthony Smith at UFC on ESPN 11 in Sweden. Last month, he announced that he would return to the UFC and fight in the heavyweight division.
The Swede stands 6-5 tall with a reach of 79 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. He has a record of 18-6 with 11 knockouts and three wins via submission. Gustafsson opened his UFC career with a 7-1 record before challenging Jon Jones for the 205-pound belt at UFC 165. Since that loss, he has won just thrice in his last seven bouts and is coming off back to back losses to Jon Jones ( rematch ) and Anthony Smith.
Gustafsson averages 4.02 significant strikes per minute with a 40% accuracy. He absorbs 3.44 significant strikes per minute and has a striking defense of 51%. The Swedish Mauler completes an average of 1.56 takedowns per 15 minutes with an accuracy of 49%. Gus has a takedown defense of 85% and he averages just 0.4 submissions per 15 minutes.
The Swede is a volume striker who has excellent boxing background. Gustafsson does most of his damage in the standup but he can also fight on the ground if that’s what he situation calls for.
Werum is known as the best submission artist in the history of the heavyweight division and 11 out of his 23 wins have come after his opponents tapped out. His striking has improved over the years and he’s recorded six knockouts in his career. Werdum won his first six UFC bouts but since losing the belt to Stipe Miocic, he’s gone 3-3 and has lost his last two bouts. He returned to action last May after serving a two-year suspension.
Gustafsson is a very good boxer with great footwork and conditioning. He’s a volume striker who gave Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier all they could handle in a five-round bout before losing by close decision to both fighters. He also has a decent takedown game, averaging more than one takedown per 15 minutes. Like Werdum, he limps into this fight with a 2-4 record.
The Swedish Mauler is light on his feet and has fast hands. He uses his 79-inch reach to throw snappy jabs and long kicks to keep his opponents at bay. Werdum looked rusty in his last bout and he lacked explosion. If he cannot take Gustafsson down, Werdum is too slow for Gustafsson on the feet. I think that Gustafsson’s speed and quickness will be too much for the version of Werdum we saw the last time out.
Prediction: Alexander Gustafsson by Decision