• UFC Fight Night 37

Gustafsson brushes off Manuwa

March 8, 2014
Alexander Gustafsson called out for a bout against Jon Jones © Getty Images

Jon Jones, it's your move.

Alexander Gustafsson (16-2) earned an impressive win on Saturday, knocking out a previously unbeaten Jimi Manuwa in the second round of their light heavyweight fight. The bout headlined UFC Fight Night 37 at the O2 Arena in London.

The result, a TKO victory at 1:18 of the second round, could earn Gustafsson a rematch with Jones (19-1), who narrowly defeated him via unanimous decision in September. Jones is scheduled to fight Glover Teixeira first at UFC 172 next month.

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"Jon Jones, I want my title shot again," Gustafsson said. "I want Jon Jones next; I can't wait to have another chance at him.

"I'm right here. Whenever you want."

The knockout finish began with a Gustafsson knee to Manuwa's chin, delivered from the Thai clinch. Wobbled, Manuwa (14-1) took a step back with his hands down, which left him open to a right hand uppercut from Gustafsson.

The punch effectively knocked Manuwa out, as he fell defensively to the ground. Gustafsson followed with right hand hammerfists until referee Marc Goddard called the bout.

"I was so glad to get a [stoppage] because my last couple of fights have gone the distance," Gustafsson said. "The support of the fans here tonight was awesome, especially the ones that traveled from Sweden.

"Jimi Manuwa is a tough, powerful fighter so my strategy was to try and wear him down a bit and drain that power. I got grazed a couple of times and you could definitely feel how hard he can throw."

Gustafsson entered the fight a heavy favorite and it showed. He took Manuwa down in the first 30 seconds and roughed him up with elbows for most of the first round.

Manuwa did manage to work back to his feet eventually, where he stuffed Gustafsson's second takedown attempt and landed a knee and stinging body shot. He appeared fresh heading into the first break.

He started the second round well enough, connecting on a 1-2 combination and just missing with a dangerous-looking right hand haymaker. Gustafsson continued to come forward, however, and landed the pivotal knee moments later.

Manuwa remained upbeat after the bout, though he admitted he couldn't recall how his night ended.

"I feel fine," Manuwa said. "I don't remember going out, and then all of the sudden the fight was over -- so that was confusing.

"I feel I can fight any fighter in the world and will go against whoever they match me up against next."

The Swedish challenger gave Jones all he could handle in their first meeting at UFC 165 in Toronto. Many felt Gustafsson had done enough to take the belt, but Jones ultimately left with his sixth title defense via scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.

Immediately after the fight, the UFC expressed interest in a rematch. Jones, however, elected to face Teixeira instead. ESPN.com ranks Jones and Gustafsson the Nos. 1 and 2 light heavyweights in the world, respectively.

Johnson outpoints leery Guillard

Michael Johnson (15-8) outclassed Melvin Guillard in a lightweight bout, defeating him via unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

The two trained together previously at the Blackzilian camp in South Florida, until Guillard left in 2013.

Guillard (31-13-2) threw a few dangerous punches in the first round, but pretty much folded later on. His game plan of circling the cage and counterpunching did seem to frustrate Johnson at times, but it was mostly ineffective.

"I came to fight so tonight was obviously very frustrating [that Guillard would not engage]," Johnson said. "I don't know if he was scared or what. The fans had a right to boo; I would have booed too. I'm not happy at all, but a win is a win."

Johnson brought the fight to his former teammate in every round, looking to score points with kicks to the leg and body early. Late in the first round, he raised his arms over his head and yelled at Guillard to fight - which may have been his only mistake.

Shortly after Johnson yelled, Guillard caught him under the chin with a blitzing right uppercut. Johnson's legs buckled, but he prevented further damage by shooting on Guillard and eventually holding him against the cage.

All momentum belonged to Johnson after that, as he opened up with the jab and straight left. He nearly dropped Guillard in the second round against the fence, but backed off when the power-puncher started swinging back defensively.

A left hand staggered Guillard again in the third, as Johnson caught him flush after checking a leg kick. In the final moments, Guillard started to complain loudly he had been poked in the eye. Replays showed the referee missed it, but it had little impact on the outcome of the bout.

"I want a top guy next, maybe a Nate Diaz, Josh Thomson or the winner of the [Donald] "Cowboy" Cerrone-[Edson Barboza] fight," Johnson said.

Johnson extends his win streak to three. A former cast member on The Ultimate Fighter, the 27-year-old is now 7-4 in the UFC and could draw a top-10 opponent next.

Pickett battles past fiery Seery

Brad Pickett earned a hard-fought unanimous decision in his 125-pound debut.

Pickett (24-8) relied heavily on offensive wrestling to outpoint Neil Seery, who accepted the fight on short notice. Judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. Seery (13-10), who replaced Ian McCall on the card, was still impressive in defeat. He lit Pickett up with punches throughout the fight, although never appeared close to knocking him out. His main problem was defending Pickett's takedowns.

"Im a little disappointed to not get a stoppage there especially in front of my hometown fans," Picket said. "Neil just kind of hung on and never allowed to me do anything."

Seery appeared satisfied with his effort, despite coming up short on the scorecards.

"I enjoyed every minute of this, especially fighting in Brad's backyard," Seery said. "The fans will see me again soon."

The Irish flyweight was forced to fight off his back at least once in each round. He was nearly caught in an arm-triangle choke midway through the first.

Pickett showed a willingness to brawl to set up the takedown. He took the worst of the majority of the exchanges and was hit especially often by Seery's left hook. Those exchanges did nothing to slow the Brit down, however, as Pickett pressed the action during his entire debut. After enticing Seery into boxing exchanges, he ducked under combinations and scored easy double legs throughout the fight. Two big slams in the final round capped off the victory.

Pickett now boasts a winning record in the UFC at 4-3. The three losses at bantamweight all came to ranked opponents in Renan Barao, Eddie Wineland and Michael McDonald.

Nelson returns, wins emphatically

In his first appearance in 13 months, Gunnar Nelson picked up where he left off. Nelson (12-0-1) improved his UFC record to 3-0 with a first-round submission of Omari Akhmedov. The finish came at the 4:36 mark, via guillotine.

The Icelandic welterweight hadn't fought since a decision win over Jorge Santiago in February 2013, due to a knee injury. He also survived a car accident in October, during which the vehicle he was in skidded off the road and rolled several times.

The layoff apparently had no negative impact on Nelson, as he dominated Akhmedov (12-2) from the opening bell. "I took a few minutes to feel out his movements and then when I got him on the ground I tried to soften him up," Nelson said. "Eventually I was able to get a good choke on him and end things.

"I'm not going to call out anyone in the division because I'll fight anyone. I look forward to getting back out there soon, though."

Nelson spent the first minute walking Akhmedov down but not opening up offensively. When he did let his hands go, it produced results. A straight left hurt Akhmedov and he wound up on his back in the ensuing scramble.

It was a clinic on the ground for Nelson from that point on, as he moved quickly into full mount and opened up a cut on Akhmedov's cheek with elbows. Near the end of the round, Nelson stood up, cleared his opponent's legs and locked in the choke as he tried to sit up.

Nelson, 25, earns his eighth submission win overall and second in the UFC.

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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