Once the word came down that Jon Jones would battle Glover Texiera next, and not rematch Alexander Gustafsson, few people, if any, predicted that the latter would be booked to fight Jimi Manuwa. After all, despite the fact Manuwa has gone 3-0 in the UFC and 14-0 to date, the “Poster Boy” isn’t a top ten ranked 205’er. Mr. Gustafsson is positioned at #1.
Of course, if you’ve seen Manuwa throw down, then you know that the powerful striker isn’t someone that any one, top contender or not, should look past. Perhaps this is why Manuwa recently told Fighters Only Magazine:
“He is a smart fighter and the smart thing to do is try and take me down. Why risk getting knocked out when you can try and take me down to where he thinks he is stronger? Well, he thinks that he’s stronger and people think that, but we will see,” said Manuwa.
“I train wrestling defense a lot, I do a lot of floor work. I train mostly off my back, maybe 65% of it off my back and the rest of it on top. I train gi and no-gi as well as judo. Striking is my preferred method to fight but you have to be well-rounded.”
It will be interesting to see how Gustafsson approaches Manuwa, as “The Mauler” is an extremely rangy and agile light-heavyweight, who has showcased pretty impressive striking skills in his own right.
The 33 year-old Manuwa also relayed that he expects Jones to beat Glover Teixeira, as the light-heavyweight contender doesn’t have any “enough tools in the striking department.” That certainly seems to be the consensus opinion out there.
Gustafssson and Manuwa will fight in the UFC Fight Night headliner, March 8th at London’s O2 Arena.