Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson will make his long-awaited return to the octagon this Fall, when it takes on rising contender Paul Craig at UFC London on September 4.
The news first broke by Front Kick, and later in the day, it was reported by BJPenn.com that the card will take place in London. A bantamweight matchup between prospects Nathaniel Wood and Jonathan Martinez has also been added to the event.
Gustafsson appeared to begin a run at title contention in the UFC’s heavyweight division before he was submitted by former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum in his divisional debut. Before that, he had lost back-to-back fights against then-champion Jon Jones and top contender Anthony Smith before making the move up in weight.
At 34-years-old, Gustafsson is still in a somewhat prime spot in his career when it comes to his physical performance in the octagon. It’s unusual that a fighter with the experience of Gustafsson would cut weight once again, but he seems primed and ready to accept the challenge.
His opponent will be Craig, who earned a TKO win over Jamahal Hill at UFC 263 and also dislocated Hill’s arm in the process. He has won four straight bouts with his lone blemish being a split-draw against Shogun Rua at UFC Fight Night 144. Craig would then dominate Rua in the rematch last November at UFC 255.
Craig is currently the 12th-ranked UFC light heavyweight contender after the win over Hill, and Gustafsson has a real opportunity to make a splash in his return to his old stomping grounds at 205 pounds.
The event will be the promotion’s first appearance in London since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UFC originally planned for a Tyron Woodley vs. Leon Edwards fight night in London in March 2020 before the global lockdowns because of the pandemic began.
What are your thoughts on Alexander Gustafsson vs. Paul Craig?