Alexander Gustafsson earned the biggest win of his career in front of his hometown fans Saturday.
The light-heavyweight prospect put on a clinic, winning a unanimous decision over Thiago Silva in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 2 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Silva came out aggressive early, but immediately had to rethink his approach after getting dropped with a right uppercut. Gustafsson then took over, utilizing his speed, footwork and range to frustrate Silva for three rounds.
"All I can say is I'm proud to fight in my home country and for my home town; it's a big honour," Gustafsson said.
"That's one of my things: keep it basic. I always train for a (title) fight, but I'm still learning, too. This is my first decision against a tough guy (in the UFC)."
Gustafsson has now won his last five bouts since getting submitted by Phil Davis two years ago.
A disappointed Silva admitted he just couldn't track Gustafsson down.
"I did my job and tried to push it," Silva said. "Alexander is a tough guy. I couldn't find the distance. What else do you want me to say?"
Brian Stann returned to the win column, making quick work of Alessio Sakara in the co-main event.
Stann wasted no time getting inside the pocket, where he blitzed Sakara with strikes. After dropping the Italian with a pair of knees to the face, Stann sealed the deal with punches on the mat.
Following the win, Stann dedicated the bout to his brother-in-law.
"My inspiration comes from my brother-in-law, Louis Ruspi Jr.," Stann said. "We lost you over Christmas. We don't know why. Thanks to my wife for holding the family together. I'm sorry you lost your brother."
Stann was riding a three-fight win streak before getting submitted by Chael Sonnen in October. He said he doesn't care who he fights next. As long as it gets him closer to a middleweight title shot.
"Whoever is next on the ladder," Stann said. "I lost big and I have to get back in there."
Afghan welterweight Siyar Bahadurzada flattened Paulo Thiago with one punch in his UFC debut.
After a brief feeling-out process, Thiago shot in for a takedown, only to eat a devastating short-right to the jaw. The shot knocked Thiago out cold, causing him to face-plant straight into the mat at the 42-second mark.
"Paulo Thiago, I respect this guy," Bahadurzada said. "Paulo Thiago comes every time to fight. I love those fighters because I come to fight and the fans want us to come and fight."
Bahadurzada admitted he likely injured his right hand while training for the bout.
"I think my right hand is broken," Bahadurzada said. "Ten days before the fight I thought I broke it, but I didn't even go to the doctor because I didn't want to know if it was broken."
Dennis Siver won a unanimous decision over Diego Nunes in a classic stand-up battle.
Both men showed off their dynamic and versatile striking games throughout the bout's 15 minute duration. Nunes found some success with spinning back fists and spinning back kicks that left Siver guessing early, but the German utilized sharp counter punches that cracked Nunes on the jaw as he charged forward.
After three close rounds, the judges awarded the bout to Siver with scores of 29-28 across the board.
John Maguire submitted DaMarques Johnson in spectacular fashion.
With Maguire in his half-guard, Johnson frantically attempted to secure a kimura from the bottom. Maguire remained patient before turning the tables, reversing the shoulderlock with a slick armbar for the impressive victory.
"Kimura is normally my favourite move, so I know how to counter it," Maguire said. "I waited and I waited for him to over-commit and then I went for it."
Brad Pickett submitted Damacio Page in a high-octane war.
Both men came out hard, landing big shots, but it was clear Page was struggling to keep up the pace. Pickett then took over, dropping Page twice with punches. After tagging Page with a right-uppercut, left-hook combo, he slipped in a rear-naked choke for the submission victory.
"I come from a standing background ... but always seem to get submission wins," Pickett said. "I'm only as good as my opponent and he made for a good fight.
"It's MMA. If you're not well-versed at this level, you should not be here."
The final preliminary bout saw James Head stun Papy Abedi in front of his hometown crowd. After wobbling Abedi with a flurry of punches, Head slapped on a rear-naked choke for the submission win.
French kickboxer Cyrille Diabate brutalized Tom DeBlass en route to a majority-decision victory.
Georges St. Pierre's training partner, Francis Carmont, mauled Magnus Cedenblad with vicious ground-and-pound before sinking in a rear-naked choke for the win.
Also on the card, hometown lightweight Reza Madadi submitted Yoislandy Izquierdo with a tight guillotine choke, Simeon Thoresen beat Besam Yousef with a slick rear-naked choke and Jason Young won a spirited unanimous decision over Eric Wisely.
UFC ON FUEL TV 2 RESULTS
Alexander Gustafsson def. Thiago Silva via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Brian Stann def. Alessio Sakara via first-round KO (punches)
Siyar Bahadurzada def. Paulo Thiago via first-round KO (punch)
Dennis Siver def. Diego Nunes via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
John Maguire def. DaMarques Johnson via second-round submission (armbar)
Brad Pickett def. Damacio Page via second-round submission (rear-naked choke)