Alexander Gustafsson Accepts “Rumble’s” Challenge: No One Is Hiding Here

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Recently, No. 1-ranked UFC light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson has been involved in a war of words with No. 5-ranked Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. The two haven’t exchanged too much trash talk per say, but their beef revolves around Gustafsson’s desire to wait for his shot at the winner of UFC 182’s Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier main event.

“The Mauler” was left out in the cold when he tore his meniscus in training for his long awaited rematch with champion Jon Jones at UFC 178, forcing “DC” to take his place. Jones then tore his meniscus, but by that time, he and Cormier had already engaged in a heated UFC 178 Media Day Brawl that made their fight the one that people wanted to see (after a year of them anticipating a rematch with “Gus”).

On an eight-fight win streak, Johnson showed respect for Gustafsson, but noted that there aren’t too many other logical choices for either one of them. Gustafsson said that Lorenzo Fertitta had offered him the next title shot and he was wiling to wait for it, but today, “The Mauler” has apparently changed his tune.

Speaking on Mikz.com, Gustafsson offered his willingness to fight “Rumble” early next year:

“Anthony Johnson, there is no one hiding from anyone here. We are both professional fighters and fighting is what we do for living. I know it is frustrating not getting response when you are challenging someone, therefore, I will not turn you down. I will be fully recovered within a couple of weeks so anytime in January and forward I will be ready to fight you.

Now it is up to the UFC to put this fight together. I can’t wait to sign the bout agreement my friend and show you what Battlefield feels like.”

Interesting, because only days ago Gustafsson was intent to stay on the sidelines and wait for his title shot. UFC President Dana White was adamant after last weekend’s (Sat., August 30, 2014) UFC 177 that Gustafsson will most likely fight again, and this one is kind of an easy fight for the UFC to book.

The winner would no doubt be in line for the next light heavyweight title shot barring any injuries, and Gustafsson would prove that he is undoubtedly the next best 205-pound fighter in the world with a win.

“Rumble,” on the other hand, would have the chance to continue his remarkable turnaround by earning a UFC title shot. It’s looking more and more like this is a fight that has to be made. Who would you pick to win this pivotal match-up?

Photo: Joe Nicholson for USA TODAY Sports