UFC Light Heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson may have lost his epic match with champion Jon Jones at UFC 165 in Toronto, but he gained just about as much respect as a fighter can for his Herculean effort.
While most believed that ‘The Mauler’ was due for an immediate rematch, Jones and the UFC ultimately came up with other plans and booked a title fight against Glover Teixeira at UFC 169. That prompted Gustafsson’s Alliance MMA coach Eric Del Fierro to speculate on whom Gus should fight next, and names like Ryan Bader and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira were mentioned.
But news comes today that Gustafsson will be taking his camp from Alliance back to his homeland of Sweden. The time away from his family has become too taxing, and after all, he’s in a position to bring in the best training partners he needs right now. Gustafsson spoke up to Swedish site Aftonblade.se to detail the major decision:
“It's time to come home. Now I'm in the stage of my career where I will compete three or four times a year so I cannot go off all the time. It costs too much and it takes too much time away from my family. It's simply not worth it. I might as well get used to having the whole training camps here in Sweden and create the routine here. Unlike before, now I am in a position that I can fly in the quality sparring partners I want. It's been hard (training away from home), it has. Hard training every day and then being away from their loved ones take its toll . But at the same time it has given me focus."
Gustafsson moved on to mention his friend, training partner, and former opponent Phil Davis, the only man to ever defeat him in the Octagon before Jones. ‘The Mauler’ knows that he and the No. 3-ranked Davis could definitely get booked for a rematch in the future, and that came into play when deciding to move his camp back home:
“Davis and I do not train with each other as much anymore. We are both top fighters, and it’s not hard to guess that we'll meet again soon. It's not a dream match up because we are friends, but the UFC decides that we should fight, so it feels better to not train together right now."
Alliance MMA is a great camp that has a proven track record for creating winners. It’s obvious that Gustafsson’s time spent there worked wonders for his overall game, as he became the first fighter to effectively take ‘Bones’ down. That’s an impressive feat in and of itself, especially when you consider that Gustafsson was primarily known as a striker before he met up with Davis after ‘Mr. Wonderful’ put Gus away with an Anaconda choke.
Now he’s going back home to focus on his family. Will this give Gustafsson piece of mind from having his family close, or will he lose a bit of his edge after being away from the MMA hotbed of Southern California for too long?
Outer Photo: Joe Nicholson for USA TODAY Sports