As a late replacement for Rogério Nogueira, find out how Thiago Silva fairs against Alexander Gustafsson as the UFC prepares for their first ever event in Sweden. Check out our UFC picks for UFC on Fuel TV 2.

UFC on Fuel TV 2: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva

Sweden takes center stage at UFC on Fuel TV 2 this month with the Country’s biggest star, Alexander Gustafsson, welcoming back Thiago Silva from a year long PED suspension. 

Gustafsson vs. SilvaAside from claiming home turf, The Mauler’s hand-speed, length and agility have all contributed to the current -230 UFC oddswe’re seeing today. Over the last two weeks he’s fallen from as high as -300 at UFC betting shops like 5dimes and sportsbook, though appears to have found a temporary holding price for now. 

Thiago Silva’s most presentable threats in this match are his takedown ability, and the knockout power in his short hooks. He follows through nicely with his straight right, but his step-back left hook is his most crafty, technically delivered punch. 

In order for Thiago to have any chance at negating Alex’s fleetness and pocket awareness that same counter left is going to have to be focal point for him in the exchanges. If you look Gustafsson’s fight with Matt Hamill you’ll notice how often Matt was able to sneak through with his power jab and left hook. The issue was Gustafsson’s tendency to over widen himself when attempting to lead out with an uppercut, which provided just enough telegraphed movement for Hamill to capitalize on as the fight progressed.

Aside from leading out with the uppercut, Alex also likes to lead and stalk with his straight right, which he repeatedly utilized to stagger a seasoned striker in Cyrille Diabate. The speed in which Alex gets in and out with that punch is what I’m expecting to give Thiago the most trouble in this fight. His primary goal has to be to keep Silva at the end of his straight right while patiently following up with a shortened left hook anytime Thiago get overzealous in pursuit of the counter.

Much like Machida, and to a lesser extent Brandon Vera, Gustafsson has the speed and crispness to completely own the stand-up against Silva. In the end I’m expecting Thiago’s much slower plodding hooks to find nothing but air as Gustafsson consistently beats him to the punch. As long as The Mauler keeps his back off the cage and avoids the big counter left he should walk away with at least a decision here.

UFC Play: Alexander Gustafsson -230 @ pinnacle

Brian “All American” Stann vs.  Alessio "Legionarius" Sakara

Clashing in the co-feature of the night will be Brian Stann and Alessio Sakara looking to climb back towards the top of the middleweight division. 

On paper, Brian Stann represents the exact skill set that’s plagued Sakara throughout his career-hence the -400 price tag in his favor. Much like Chris Leben, Houston Alexander and Drew McFedries were able to accomplish, Stann’s aggression and superior power is expected to stop Sakara within the first round. 

Although I agree with the consensus assessment of Stann finishing Sakara early, I have a hard time agreeing with the implied (-400) 80% chance of it happening. 

Sakara not only fights behind a tighter, more refined posture, but he’s also more effective at chaining his combinations together while utilizing excellent, deceptive feints to create openings. It’s quite possible that we see these advantages result in him out-boxing his way to a decision

I’m expecting most of the prop value to be in Brian Stann winning in round 1 or by knockout, which should be the perfect straddle against a straight bet on Sakara. As of now though, I have to advise adding a small play on the dog to your sports picks until props are released the week of the event.

UFC Play: Alessio Sakara +336 @