MANCHESTER – It was basically a foregone conclusion that Alexander Gustafsson‘s next fight would be in his home country of Sweden.
But on Saturday, that all went south. Literally. And a little bit to the west. UFC President Dana White announced Gustaffson (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) will meet Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) on March 8 in London.
White made the announcement following Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 30 card, which took place at Phones4u Arena in Manchester, England. Gustafsson was a guest fighter in town during the week participating in fan events.
Following the post-fight news conference, Gustafsson told MMAjunkie.com that he was more than OK with having his next fight be in London instead of his home country of Sweden, likely in Stockholm.
“London, I’ve fought there before, and it feels like home,” Gustafsson told MMAjunkie.com. “A lot of Swedes are going to come over, and I get good support in London and in England. I’ll fight anywhere.”
Gustafsson in September fought light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in a “Fight of the Year” candidate, but lost a five-round decision. The fight was close enough that some were calling for a quick rematch.
But White said not long after that Jones would fight Glover Teixeira next, with Gustafsson taking a fight around the same time – and if they both won, the rematch would be on.
Gustafsson said he’s no longer thinking about Jones – even though he knows a win over Nogueira will get him a shot, potentially, at Jones again.
“That fight is already over, me and Jones,” Gustafsson said. “It ended up how it did, and I let that go now. I have a new opponent to focus on and I’m planning to beat him in London.
“That belt is always on my mind. I will get that belt, and I will fight Jones again. I’m going to take that belt – that’s how it is. But now I can recharge and look forward to another opponent. I just feel super motivated and I’m ready to go.”
Gustafsson spoke to media members on Friday in Manchester – and at that time, he didn’t know who his next opponent would be. There had been rumors it would be Daniel Cormier in his first fight at light heavyweight. But Cormier told MMAjunkie.com Radio he would not do his first weight cut to 205 pounds in an overseas fight – and he was fairly certain Gustaffson would be booked to fight overseas.
But the tall Swede said he found out at the same time media members did that he was fighting Nogueira, who he was matched up with previously in a fight that never came to fruition because of a “Little Nog” injury.
But now Gustafsson has his assignment, and said he’s ready to go.
“(Cormier) was just rumors,” he said. “You don’t want to hope too much for anything. Now I have an opponent, and that’s it. … I’m not in camp, so I’m going to just study him and do what I do right now, and when the camp starts, I’ll be ready to go.”
For more on the UFC European Tour show in London, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Alexander Gustafsson)