UFC Light Heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson will be faced with a golden opportunity when he steps into the Octagon to face Jon Jones at UFC 165. The Swedish mixed martial artist has attained a stellar track record in the UFC, having only lost once to Phil Davis. Gustafsson hasn’t fought since UFC on Fox 5 last December, when he beat Mauricio “Shogun” Rua via decision.
He was scheduled to face Gegard Mousasi at UFC Sweden this April, but a cut opened up in training camp left “The Mauler” at the behest of the still-developing Swedish MMA commission. It may have worked out for the best, as Gustafsson now has a chance at his ultimate goal, a UFC belt.
And during his time off, he saw an instance of inspiration when Chris Weidman knocked out the seemingly invincible Anderson Silva at UFC 162, telling Fighters Only Mag:
“Absolutely, I take inspiration from what Chris Weidman did against Anderson. This could be the year when a lot of title belts change hands. This is a totally different fight, of course, but Weidman proved that nobody is invincible. Hendricks versus GSP is also a good fight that could end with a new champion too.”
Indeed there is change in the air in the UFC, with Silva losing his belt only to be joined by Benson Henderson, who recently lost to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164. It can be argued that Gustafsson has the toughest task ahead of him, as he must dethrone the No.1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in “Bones.” However, Gus is feeling no pressure, or so he says:
“I’m actually enjoying every second of it. There is no pressure on me at all. I know that I will take that belt. I have everything to gain by this fight. Being around Jon, facing off with him so many times, watching him interact with people and moving around. It was a good experience and really helped me to humanize him also.”
Gustafsson has the right attitude heading into the biggest fight of his career, because anything but a calm and clear head will lead to almost certain defeat against Jones. Much has been made of the fact that Gustafsson is actually taller than Jones, but the champion actually still enjoys a rather large reach advantage. Can Gustafsson overcome this to walk out as champion from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on September 21st?