Gustafsson gets his replacement: Jimi Manuwa…wait, who?

Jon Jones did not appear too pleased yesterday when he commented on the easy match Alexander Gustafsson had booked against Antonio Noguiera. As Jones sees it, it’s a bit too convenient for the UFC and Gustafsson that his ticket back to the title would be a fairly pedestrian opponent.

Meet Jimi Manuwa.

Per MMAJunkie.com, UFC officials announced today that Manuwa, who fought recently on the UFC’s UK card, would get a crack at the Mauler on March 8.

Evidently the promotion thinks he can put on an entertaining show. Manuwa is 14-0 and 3-0 in the UFC – with all his UFC wins due to opponent injuries in their contests. Only one of those injury stoppages was between the bells, which can be credited to damage done by Manuwa. Even so, the UFC essentially replaces a guy who couldn’t keep himself healthy to a guy whose opponents can’t stay healthy during the actual fight.

Manuwa may very well be a solid challenge for Gustafsson – he has finished all 14 of his contests, with many by punches – but the point is we don’t know that now. It would be different were Manuwa on a streak of impressive wins against lesser competition or even one dominating win – but Manuwa hasn’t. He’s completely unproven in the UFC.

It’s the same argument made every year in college football by a Mountain West team looking to compete for a national title; Manuwa may be good, but is he UFC good?

Clearly the UFC sees this as a win-win. If Manuwa is a game opponent, they get a great contest and, ideally, Gustafsson wins in that scenario. If Manuwa gets starry eyed and falters, Gustafsson wins.

The UFC is very, very eager to keep a Gustafsson v. Jones rematch booked.

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