It’s been nearly a year since we saw Alexander Gustafsson inside the Octagon. Just like us waiting for his return, The Swedish Mauler has been waiting to get a call from the UFC.
Gustafsson served a precautionary six month medical suspension following his brutal five round bout with Daniel Cormier at UFC 192. After he got cleared last April 3, Gustafsson made it known that he wanted to return at UFC Hamburg. He didn’t ask for a name. He just wanted to fight:
Just finished off a BJJ training. To give you guys an update. I am ready to get in proper fight camp, hungry and more motivated than ever, doesn't matter who they put in front of me. Would love to fight at @ufc Hamburg on September 3rd. Still waiting for the UFC to find me an opponent, ANYONE will do! Meanwhile, I keep on training and staying in shape. #teammauler #unibet #gymgrossisten #carlingsmauler #ufchamburg
He got his wish and now The Swedish Mauler is back:
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) June 17, 2016
Jan Blachowicz was once one of the UFC’s highly touted foreign born fighters. The former KSW Light Heavyweight champion from Poland is just 2-2 in the UFC and suffered back to back unanimous decision losses in 2015 before beating Igor Pokrajac last April. Now, Blachowicz has the biggest opportunity of his career in facing Gustafsson. He must be ready to get mauled though.
Known as one of the best and hardest hitting strikers in the sport, Alexander Gustafsson ironically rose to prominence in the biggest loss of his career. The Swedish Mauler took then UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones to the limit in what is known as the greatest title fight in light heavyweight history at UFC 165. Unfortunately, Gustafsson was on the losing end of the 2013 Fight of the Year winner and was so controversially. Despite the loss, Gustafsson was promised another title shot, possibly in Sweden. However after an unusual delay and a meniscus injury, Gustafsson sat out the entire 2014. The bout in Sweden came in January 2015 but Gustafsson was knocked out by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson instead. When Jones was stripped of the title later that year, Gustafsson’s title shot came against DC at UFC 182. He lost that bout in another heartbreaker.
The loss to Cormier dropped Gus to 1-3 in his last 4 bouts. Still, the 28 year old refuses to let go of his title aspirations. Said Gustafsson after the Cormier loss:
“I will hold on as long as I know I have the potential to be the best. If there will come a day when I feel I can not go any further than this, that day I stop. Then I put the gloves on the shelf. But I feel that there’s more to download. I know I can be better. I know I have the potential to beat ‘DC.’ I know I can beat Jon Jones. It’s just about figuring this out last.”
Jones said last March that he needs a rematch with Gustafsson to seal his legacy. Gustafsson meanwhile, believes he can do it to Jones one more time:
Gustafsson deserves another shot at Jones. But he can’t just wait. He needs to take matters into his own hands.
Jones will fight Cormier at UFC 200 and if Bones wins that bout, Gustafsson could finally get his rematch although the winner of Rumble-Texeira on July 23 will also have a say. First things first though. Alexander Gustafsson has to beat Blachowicz. He can’t just win. He needs to be impressive and win convincingly.
Alexander Gustafsson calls 2016 his “championship year”. He says that he has never been more hungry and motivated. Come to think of it, Gustafsson is the only man to give both Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier a severe beating inside the Octagon. That’s why he’s the Mauler. Sure, he lost both fights and is 0-2 in title bouts. But Alexander Gustafsson is still 29 and we may not have seen the best of him yet. That’s what makes the Mauler very scary.