We witnessed UFC light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson lose his second bid in becoming UFC champion on Saturday night at UFC 192. Gustafsson lost a split decision to Daniel Cormier, albeit, Cormier should have won the fight unanimously in a close grinding fight.
If you’re reading this, you may be familiar with the “Lifemeter” pieces I’ve written in the past. If not, you can check them out here and here. The pieces focused on Robbie Lawler and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, with the Rua piece proving to come to fruition. We’re still waiting for Lawler to fight again to see if there’s any validity to the data.
Let’s turn our focus to Alexander Gustafsson.
Gustafsson (16-4) hasn’t been fighting that long, debuting in 2007 and having 20 fights in his career. Almost all of those early fights ended in the first or second rounds with Gustafsson taking little damage, but that began to change a few years ago as the competition stiffened. Gustafsson has fought four times since September 2013, going (1-3) in the process while taking an obscene amount of punishment in the three losses
- Gustafsson vs. Jones: Gustafsson absorbed 134 significant strikes (53 head strikes) loss
- Gustafsson vs. Manuwa: Gustafsson absorbed 13 significant strikes (4 head strikes) win
- Gustafsson vs. Johnson: Gustafsson absorbed 30 significant strikes (29 head strikes) knockout loss
- Gustafsson vs. Cormier: Gustafsson absorbed 120 significant strikes (111 head strikes) loss
Gustafsson has absorbed a total of 297 significant strikes in his last four bouts, with 197 (66%) of those strikes counting as head strikes. Also, two of those fights were five round wars, with a brutal knockout loss included in another one of those fights. That’s a ton of damage in really only three fights since Gustafsson was able to finish Manuwa in the first round.
The knockout loss to Anthony Johnson was brutal, so much that Gustafsson said he considered retiring afterwards.
Gustafsson turned 28 years old earlier this year, so physically he should have a number of years left to compete at a high level if he chooses to keep competing.
Obviously, whoever he is matched up with in his next fight would be a huge factor in how this shakes out moving forward but the numbers don’t lie.
Will he be able to continue fighting at such a high level and absorbing high amounts of damage? Or will he begin to decline in his ability to absorb punishment like the Shogun Rua’s and Chuck Liddell’s that came before him?
HT: Stats courtesy of Fighmetric