Update: It’s official.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s latest injury has opened the door for an undefeated prospect to get a huge opportunity. Gareth A. Davies from The Telegraph is reporting that undefeated Nigerian-English light-heavyweight Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa will step in as the replacement opponent for Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36, which is slated for March 8th in London. (Technically, FrontRowBrian reported this two days ago, but nobody believed him.)
Whereas Gustafsson vs. Lil’ Nog felt like a squash match intended to get Gustafsson an easy road back to a title fight — those are Jon Jones’s words, not ours — Gustafsson vs. Manuwa could be legitimately dangerous for the Swedish star. Manuwa may be lacking in terms of big-fight experience, but his record is terrifying: a perfect 14-0, with all fights finished before the third round, and his last two UFC appearances ending with his opponents suffering spontaneous leg injuries. But the Mauler ain’t skurred. As he told The Telegraph:
“I’m looking forward to fighting Jimi Manuwa in his hometown and I am happy that UFC could find such an exiting opponent as Jimi so quickly.
“His clean record is impressive but I am one fight away from the title fight again and I will fight my heart out to get a win in this fight and reach my goals. Jimi is a great stand-up fighter which he proved in his last fight in Manchester.
“We will put on a hell of a show, but I am not sure who will have the hometown advantage since I expect an invasion of Swedish fans to come and support me.”
So what do you think? Is Gustafsson in trouble here, or will he put a swift end to the Poster Boy hype-train?