Alexander Gustafsson wasn’t 100 percent for his rematch with Jon Jones in December.
Speaking to Luke Thomas on “The MMA Hour,” Gustafsson explained that Jones’ inadvertent knee to the groin early in the bout hindered his performance for the remainder of the bout (via MMA Fighting):
“I just didn’t perform like I used to,” Gustafsson said. “I didn’t have the footwork going. And I have no excuses, it’s not that. It’s just like, after when he got me with that knee, I couldn’t really find the rhythm again. I just, I couldn’t move like I did before. I just had a lot of pain after that, and I’ve never had that type of pain in my career before in a fight.
“Of course, you have pain, you get shots from everywhere and you get back, you just keep pushing. But he just stopped me right there, and I tried to move, work it with my footwork, try to kick him or attack, be explosive. But none of that worked. I just couldn’t with my groin. So that’s basically it, and he took me down. Nobody can hold me down. Nobody can hold me down.
“Not DC, not Jon. Nobody. When he took me down there and when he finished me, I couldn’t move because of my groin. He just passed, he just went to half guard and just went up and did the crucifix stuff on me — and nobody does that to me. I wasn’t 100 percent. I just felt that I had so much pain in my groin that I couldn’t really get back into my rhythm again.
“And with that said, I don’t use this as an excuse or anything like that. He did what he had to do to beat me, and Jon is the best guy out there, so I don’t feel like I’m thinking about that loss nowadays. It is what it is and I just move forward now.”
Jones went on to finish “The Mauler” in the third round via TKO on the ground. It was his first defeat since 2015. Prior to that, Gustafsson dropped fights to Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira. Now, he’ll regroup in front of his native Swedish crowd next week (Sat. June 1, 2019).
He’ll main event UFC Stockholm opposite Anthony “Lionheart” Smith from the Ericsson Globe.