By Denny Hodge
Alexander Gustafsson took one step closer to becoming the number one contender in the light heavyweight division, earning a dominating unanimous decision victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua with scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 30-26.

An exciting first round started with Gustaffson using his length to score from the outside, mixing in knees and uppercuts as the distance closed. Rua fought to get inside launching his patented overhand right. Gustafsson scored the first significant strike of the fight, dropping “Shogun” with a flurry. He followed to the mat but nearly got caught in a leg lock as “Shogun” looked to turn the tables on the mat. Gustafsson finally freed his leg then punished Rua with kicks and knees in the clinch to close out the opening stanza.

The second round started with a flurry as both guys stood in the pocket and threw power shots. Gustafsson came back with more knees to the body, as “Shogun” countered with powerful overhand rights. As Rua landed with power, Gustafsson scored with volume, landing combinations of kicks and punches in the exchanges. Gustafsson also managed several takedowns as he started to seize control of the bout.

Gustafsson really found his rhythm in the third, battering “Shogun” with knees and kicks to the body. He also managed to string together flurries of combinations as “Shogun” again loaded up with his right hand. A late kick to the liver stunned Rua, and Gustafsson attacked, landing big knees up the middle and short uppercuts at range before securing a late takedown just before the bell.

The dominating performance moves Alexander Gustafsson to 15-1 overall (7-1 UFC), and likely moves him into the position of number one contender at 205.