UFC Fight Night 153 is done and dusted, and so is the career of Sweden’s most impactful mixed martial artist. After a back-and-forth main event that saw Anthony Smith defy the oddsmakers yet again to take out former three-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson via fourth-round submission on Saturday in Stockholm, “The Mauler” left his gloves in the Octagon and confirmed at the post-fight press conference that his fighting days were done. By contrast, Smith has now solidified himself as a Top 3 light heavyweight and looks to have placed himself within striking distance of a second shot at the 205-pound crown.
Further down the card, Aleksandar Rakic announced himself as another potential force in the light heavyweight division and handed Jimi Manuwa an emphatic head kick knockout loss, while hometown hero Daniel Teymur picked up sorely needed victory that likely saved his spot on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight roster.
As usual, “The Vanquished” will weigh in on the action and explore what’s next for the main-card losers. Let’s get started.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Mauricio Rua: There was once a time when Manuwa was being touted as a legitimate challenger to the 205-pound throne. It appears that time has passed, as London’s “Poster Boy” caught his fourth consecutive loss from the aforementioned Rakic and lasted only 42 seconds before being felled by a devastating head kick. While Manuwa will likely fall out of the Top 15 at light heavyweight, he is unlikely to be released by the market leader due to his relative popularity and the thinness of the division in which he competes. Plus, there are fun fights out there for the 39-year old if he wants to take them. A bout with “Shogun” Rua fits the bill.
Chris Fishgold vs. Shane Young: Fishgold’s main-card bout opposite SBG Ireland’s Makwan Amirkhani reached can’t-miss status in the buildup to the UFC’s sixth event in Sweden, with “Mr. Finland” taking numerous swipes at Fishgold over social media. It led to a heated staredown at the weigh-in and a barnburner of a fight when they met in the center of the cage. Though Fishgold was submitted in the second round, he more than held his own throughout the contest. At 26 years old and with a record of 18-3-1, there’s nothing to say he can’t become one of England’s Next Big Things in MMA. A bout with New Zealand’s Young makes sense, as he picked up his second UFC win earlier this year.
Damir Hadzovic vs. Lando Vannata: Hadzovic was confident he was going to take out Christian Giagos in their lightweight feature -- an expectation buoyed by the arrival of his daughter in May, which gave the Bosnian-born Dane a newfound sense of motivation. Though the “Bosnian Bomber” was never out of the fight and came back to win the final round, Giagos took the unanimous decision and sent Hadzovic back to the drawing board. Having posted a .500 record through six UFC appearances, Hadzovic is often cited as an example of unrealized potential and will need to get back to his winning ways if he wants to stand out in the talent-rich 155-pound division. A fight opposite Vannata could result in fireworks, as the bonus machine got back in the win column at UFC 234 in February.
Sung Bin Jo vs. Suman Mokhtarian: South Korea’s Jo exuded calm as he made his way to the Octagon for his UFC debut but exited the cage 20 minutes later on the wrong side of a unanimous decision. Teymur tried to take off Jo’s head in the first round and maintained the pressure in the succeeding stanzas to hand the “Korean Falcon” his first professional loss. Jo had his moments during the fight and at 26 has plenty of time to round out his skills before his sophomore appearance. He should next fight Australian Top Team’s Mokhtarian, who lost his short-notice UFC debut in December.