After clearing a little bit of Swedish red tape, the pivotal light heavyweight scrap between Alexander Gustafsson (pictured) and Gegard Mousasi will in fact be a five round affair.
Non-title main events used to be three round bouts, but the UFC changed all featured attractions to five round fights over a year ago. However, the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation (SMMAF), who is overseeing the April 6 show, wouldn’t allow non-title fights to go five rounds.
Swedish website mmanytt.se has since confirmed the governing body has done an about-face.
The format change could prove to be critical. While Mousasi has only gone the distance four times in his 38 professional forays, one of which was a five round decision defeat to Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal that cost him his Strikeforce light heavyweight title, Gustafsson has gone to the cards in back-to-back bouts.
April’s unanimous decision victory over Thiago Silva, which was also sanctioned by the SMMAF, was a three round main event. That card marked the Octagon’s Swedish debut.
UFC president Dana White has already promised Lyoto Machida next dibs at the 205-pound crown, but given “The Dragon’s” less than spectacular win over Dan Henderson and White’s wishy-washy stance on the top contender spot over the past couple of months, who knows what a highlight reel finish by Gustafsson or Mousasi could do?
UFC on FUEL TV 9 takes place inside Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm.