The injury that kept Alexander Gustafsson off last weekend’s UFC 227 was apparently more serious than first revealed.
“The Mauler’s” original opponent Volkan Oezdemir pulled out of their scheduled main card bout. Anthony Smith soon knocked out Shogun Rua in Hamburg and immediately called out Gustafsson as a late replacement.
Gustafsson was forced out with a ‘minor’ undisclosed injury shortly thereafter, however. More than a bit of speculation arose based on the timing.
“It wasn’t a minor injury; he actually had a serious injury to his hamstring. He doesn’t have to do surgery. He’s doing physical therapy, and we’re hoping he can come back before the end of the year. He was hurt, a legitimate injury, and he’s working on it. We’re trying to get him in before the end of the year.”
Gustafsson has long campaigned for a rematch with UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. The two met in a classic five-round war in 2015, where Cormier emerged with a narrow split decision win.
His main goal is an understandable one with Cormier set to retire next year. Gustafsson has been out of action since a thrilling fifth-round knockout of Glover Teixeira in May 2017 and has never been the most consistent of fighters.
Gustafsson is obviously recovering from a significant injury, but one thing he has going for him is that Cormier is injured too.
Time will tell if “The Mauler” receives the title shot he’s been angling for.