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The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Stockholm, Sweden, for UFC Fight Night 153 on June 1 at the Ericsson Globe. Headlining the event is a light heavyweight contest between Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Smith.
Both Gustafsson (18-5) and Smith (31-14) are coming off title fight losses to Jon Jones and will be looking to return to the win column. The difference for Gustafsson is that he’s already lost to Jones twice, so he’ll either need a huge run of wins or hope that someone else defeats the champion to get another title shot.
The Swede is still ranked as the third-best light heavyweight in the world by both Sherdog and ESPN while he is No. 2 in the UFC rankings. Smith, meanwhile, is rated as the fourth-best in the world by Sherdog, seventh by ESPN and is the No. 4 contender in the UFC rankings. It’s clear “Lionheart” has more to gain as a win would not only represent arguably the biggest in his career but move him up the ranks even more.
Another fighter looking to end a recent skid is Jimi Manuwa. At one point, it seemed like Manuwa (17-5) would challenge for the light heavyweight title. However, he has lost three in a row since, with two of them being brutal knockouts. Those performances have seen him dropped from Sherdog and ESPN’s top 10 but he is still the No. 11 contender in the UFC rankings. He will look to get back on track against Aleksandar Rakic. Rakic (11-1) is unbeaten in three UFC fights, most recently finishing Devin Clark at UFC 231. A win over a longtime contender in Manuwa would likely guarantee him cracking the top 15 for the first time.
Finally, there is ranked women’s bantamweight action on the prelims as Tonya Evinger takes on Lina Lansberg. Despite two tough losses against Cris Cyborg and Aspen Ladd to start her UFC career, Evinger (19-7, 1 NC) is still ranked as the eighth-best in the world at 135 by Sherdog as well as No. 12 in the UFC rankings. She will be looking to emulate her pre-UFC run by getting her first promotional victory this weekend. Her opponent in Lansberg (8-4) is coming off a loss to Yana Kunitskaya and has generally alternated between wins and losses in her UFC career. Ranked No. 13 by the UFC, a win for “Elbow Queen” could move her up the ranks.