UFC light-heavyweight title contender Alexander Gustafsson is getting another crack at the 205-pound title at UFC, as it was recently confirmed that he’ll be facing the newly crowned champion Daniel Cormier at a yet-to-be named event. It’s widely rumoured that UFC 191 in Las Vegas on September 5th will play host to the championship scrap between the two, which will see ‘The Mauler’ getting a title shot even though he is coming off a loss, a fact that has raised a few eyebrows in the MMA (mixed martial arts) community.
It pays to remember though, Cormier himself got a title shot off a loss, having dropped a unanimous decision to Jon Jones at UFC 182. Following the now well-storied tale of ‘Bones” meltdown and subsequent stripping of his long-held title, ‘DC’ won the belt in dominant fashion against Anthony Johnson, the very man who had knocked out ‘The Mauler’ to get a shot at Jones and the belt. So now we’ve come full circle, with the absence of who many still consider the ‘true’ champion, a fact that Gus is all too aware of. Having fought a gruelling five rounds with Jones at UFC 165, Gus has more than one thing in common with his opponent at (probably) UFC 191.
Check out what Gustafsson told Fightland about the odd position at the top of the light-heavyweight division:
“Whoever is holding the belt is the official champion, but everybody knows that the best guy out there is Jon Jones,” declares Gustafsson. “He’s the pound for pound best guy in the world and you can probably only consider yourself a real world champion if you beat him.”
“The fight that everybody wants to see is a rematch with me and Jones. Let’s see what happens but I’m ready for that, it’s the fight that has been motivating me. I think it’s a fight that is going to happen one day, for sure.”
“Of course, I want to fight Anthony Johnson again some day too. I want to show everybody that I’m much better than I was that night. I definitely want to fight those two guys again, but I think I have a lot to give the division as a whole. I’ve got a lot of years left in my career, and I want to fight a lot of different guys.”
For now though, Daniel Cormier is the boss of the light-heavyweight mob, and Jones is out of the equation by his own (wrong) doing. The wrestling prowess of the former Olympian doesn’t go unnoticed, as he continues:
“I think this is going to be a real fight, you know, I’ve got to work on keeping my distance and using my footwork to my advantage. I know ‘DC’ is going to come in hard, throwing powerful punches and if the opportunity presents itself he will use his wrestling.”
“I think he’s very confident with his striking, he’s obviously a very high caliber athlete. He’s got a lot of belief in himself and I’m expecting him to trade with me a little bit, I certainly don’t think he’s going to be afraid to stand up with me or anything like that. I kind of feel the same about his wrestling.
“Wrestling is all about taking you opportunities when different situations unfold. If I find myself in the right situation against Cormier, I’ll use my wrestling too. We’ll have to see what happens, this is an MMA fight and anything can happen.”
Gustafsson’s wrestling is thoroughly underrated when you consider his track record, but Cormier’s is simply on another level. It’s going to be a great fight to watch, as it’s been on the cards for a while, but who will be able to make the most of their physical advantages? Gus is certainly longer and more adept with his striking, but Cormier’s chin and sheer strength make him a nightmare to deal with in the clinch.
Perhaps ‘DC’ will look to further expose what ‘Rumble’ started in Sweden, and shock Gustafsson with a knockout?