UFC light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson will be the headliner when the Octagon moves to Sweden for the first time on April 14, and Gustafsson says it's going to be huge.
In an interview on The MMA Hour, Gustafsson said the UFC is growing rapidly in popularity in his homeland, and that when he fights Thiago Silva in the main event of the upcoming UFC on FUEL TV card.
"It's just getting bigger and bigger," Gustafsson said. "After this show MMA is just going to explode. So it's great."
Gustafsson had an opponent change when Antonio Rogerio Nogueira dropped out with an injury, and he said he'd rather fight Silva because he believes Silva is a striker who will guarantee a good show. And Gustafsson didn't hesitate to predict that he'll knock Silva out quickly.
"I will strike with him," Gustaffson said. "This will be an early stoppage."
Gustaffson, who was born and raised about an hour away from the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, where the fight will take place, says he's expecting a large contingent of friends and family to be there within the sold-out crowd of Swedish fans who will be cheering him on against Silva. That crowd shows how MMA is growing in Sweden, although Gustafsson also noted one area where Sweden has a ways to go: There's not an elite MMA gym at home where he can train. That's why Gustaffson moved to the United States to train at Alliance MMA, which he said his coaches and training partners completely understood.
If leaving Sweden to train was what it took for Gustafsson to come back to Sweden as a UFC headliner, that was a good move for Gustafsson. And for the Swedish fans who are part of that upcoming MMA explosion.