Cormier found success in the clinch, landing a number of uppercuts on his way to judges’ scores of 47-48, 48-47 and 49-46.
“You made me a better man and fighter tonight,” Cormier told Gustafsson, during the victor’s post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
Gustafsson kept the distance early, but Cormier found his way in and secured a big slam to bring the fight to the ground. While there, Cormier landed several strikes while remaining in top control. The round ended after Gustafsson got back to his feet and worked his striking.
Gustafsson prevented the fight from going to the ground in the second, forcing a stand-up exchange for much of the round. Cormier landed some uppercuts in the clinch, but Gustafsson also scored with punches at range.
The fight remained competitive through the third until Gustafsson landed a knee to the head, following it up with a punch that sent Cormier to the ground. The champion recovered, working his way back to his feet and the end of the round.
Cormier spent much of the fourth round chasing Gustafsson as the Swedish fighter circled out of danger. Once he got in range, Cormier looked to land right hands or secure the clinch to work in more uppercuts.
The fifth round had both fighters looking tired and escaping any definitive technique. Gustafsson continued turning his back and circling out of range, but Cormier found himself in a number of opportunities to secure the clinch and land strikes at close range before being announced as the winner.
With the win, Cormier improves to 16-1 and awaits his next opponent, who, if he is reinstated by the UFC, will be former title holder Jon Jones.