Morning Report: Alexander Gustafsson's Coming Out Party and the Curse of Comparison

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In case you hadn't heard, Alexander Gustafsson looked good on Saturday night. Like, really good. Maybe even Jon Jones good, if you were to believe our good friend Mike Goldberg, who made roughly 3 billion references to the champ in a span of 15 minutes.

Except, not only is that a lie, it's not even fair to the lanky Swede. Like our own Ben Fowlkes so eloquently said over the weekend, it's a personal disservice to Gustafsson to continually measure his growth and style against Jones'. Bestowing him that burden is a knee-jerk reaction that borders on spiteful.

But, of course, all these comparisons are inevitable. That's just what we do in sports. Everyone is the new Ali or the new Jordan. So if we really have to compare "The Mauler" to someone, why not shoot for someone that makes sense. And maybe I'm just crazy, but on Saturday night Gustafsson looked just like a 6'5" Swedish Dominick Cruz.

Think about it. Jumping in and out of range with crisp, high-pressure striking and loose, elusive footwork; frustrating his opponent with a fluidity that at times seems awkward and at others seems gorgeous. To me, that certainly sounds more "Dominator" and less "Bones." But like I said, maybe I'm just crazy.

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

Weekend MMA results. Catch up on another busy mixed martial arts weekend with fight results for UFC on FUEL 2, Bellator 65, TUF Live and TUF Brazil.

UFC on FUEL 2 post-fight coverage. Even after the lights in Stockholm dimmed, our UFC on FUEL 2 coverage kept on rolling with Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva video highlights, fight night bonuses, fighter reactions, post-fight press conference video and the final installment of Ben Fowlkes' Postcards from Stockholm series.

Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen rematch date could change. The UFC's June 23 booking for Silva vs. Sonnen II could be in jeopardy because Rio is set to host a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development during the same week.

Dana White talks Overeem, shuts down #RallyForMarkHunt. UFC President Dana White brushed off questions about Alistair Overeem's ongoing situation by insisting he was too upset to talk about it and will instead wait for due process, but he understands the drug testing status quo isn't cutting it. Meanwhile, White effectively crushed the hopes of the internet, saying of Mark Hunt replacing Alistair Overeem at UFC 146: "It ain't going to happen."

BJ Penn: I have no plans to fight at the moment. Former lightweight champ BJ Penn unconvincingly reaffirmed his retirement from MMA, stating he had nothing currently scheduled, but no one knows what the future could hold.

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MEDIA STEW

If you didn't know who Siyar Bahadurzada was before Saturday, chances are you probably do now. While Siyar's 42-second face rearranging of Paulo Thiago stunned many a fight fan, now that this top secret training video has leaked out, it all makes sense.

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The split-second when Brian Stann stops punching Alessio Sakara's brains out and plays referee during his own fight may be the most honorable moment in UFC history.

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Our friends over at MiddleEasy have been shadowing Nick Diaz to see how retirement is treating the former champ, but after watching this footage it's pretty clear Diaz needs to step-up his Tony Hawk's Pro Skater skills. (Back in the day, we could clear out the Warehouse in one run. Just saying.)

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Our biggest takeaway from Bellator 65: Eduardo Dantas is a scary, scary dude. If you missed it the first time around, check out the 23-year-old mega-prospect destroying Zach Makovsky to seize the Bellator bantamweight strap.

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THE PLOT THICKENS

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BECAUSE YOU WEIGH THE SAME

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced over the weekend (Friday, April 13, 2012 - Sunday, April 15, 2012):

- UFC on FUEL 4: James Te Huna (14-5) vs. Brandon Vera (12-5)

- Bellator 66: Jessica Eye (6-1) vs. Anita Rodriguez (5-2)

- Bellator 66: Dan Spohn (6-1) vs. Attila Vegh (24-4)

- Bellator 66: John Hawk (6-4) vs. Marcus Vanttinen (21-3)

- Bellator 66: Frank Carabello (8-4) vs. Donny Walker (15-6)

- Bellator 66: Tyler Combs (13-9) vs. Jason Dent (21-12)

- Bellator 66: Joe Heiland (6-1) vs. Julian Lane (3-0)

- Bellator 68: Daniel Straus (19-4) vs. Marlon Sandro (22-3)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees BE's dropkick101 don his Joe Silva hat: Shogun vs. Gustafsson Is The Fight To Book

Alexander Gustafsson just picked up his fifth consecutive win in the UFC. The young fighter is 6-1 overall in the organization with five stoppages. Along with Ryan Bader and Phil Davis, he is inarguably one of the top prospects in the division. Unlike those men, he has not suffered a recent loss.

With all of this in mind, and in light of the current state of the division, the Swedish fighter is within a single win of earning a title shot. No one else in the division, with the exception of the champion, is on a win streak like him. Most importantly, unlike many of the top names, Gustafsson has yet to lose to the champ. With Rashad Evans receiving his shot next weekend and Dan Henderson being next in line, Gustaffson could easily secure his shot with one more victory.

The big question for Gustafsson is who he will meet in his next bout. With a potential title shot on the line, the next logical step for Gustafsson is a former champion ranked in the top five of the division. In other words, an opponent who will instantly cause the Swede to be considered a title contender with a win. In light of the current state of the division, the best possible opponent is Shogun Rua.

Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's post.

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