Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Smith won’t be happening at August 4’s UFC 227.
After the rising “Lionheart” called Gustafsson out in the minutes after his dominant first-round knockout over Shogun Rua at today’s (July 22, 2018) UFC Hamburg, news broke on the post-fight show on FOX Sports 1 that “The Mauler” would not be fighting at UFC 227 due to an undisclosed injury. The Swedish contender was originally scheduled to fight Volkan Oezdemir at the Los Angeles Calif.-based card until the recent title challenger was forced out due to injury himself.
It’s curious timing from Gustafsson, who has been out of action since a fifth-round knockout win over Glover Teixeira last May. He’s been campaigning for a second shot at double champ Daniel Cormier, whom he fought to a close split decision loss three years back, even saying he would go as far as to move up to heavyweight to meet “DC.”
Gustafsson’s management subsequently released the following statement to MMAjunkie:
“Alex Gustafsson is out of UFC 227 with a minor injury,” the statement read. “The injury occurred last week. Since that time, we have been working closely with the UFC doctors, our doctors in Sweden, and the experts at the UFC Performance Institute. We have been advised that Alex has a minor injury, and he will not be permitted to compete at UFC 227. Had Alex been fit to fight, we were prepared to face (Khalil) Rountree or anyone else the UFC had asked us, including (Daniel) Cormier at heavyweight.
“Alex will be fighting again very soon. He will give his side of the story shortly. We don’t care who the opponent is. But whomever we face it should be for the meaningful result of the LHW UFC Title.”
Perhaps a fight with the surging Smith, who has brutally knocked out former champions Rua and Rashad Evens in his only two fights at light heavyweight, wasn’t such an appealing prospect for the already top-ranked Gustafsson. He may draw flack from fans for not accepting Smith’s callout, yet he stood little to gain other than a paycheck in facing a dangerous rising force.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see what “The Mauler’s” next move will be, yet Smith clearly isn’t in his plans. With a few more knockout wins over big names, however, he may not have the option for long.