Alexander Gustafsson knows what he wants next. He also knows what he thinks is likely to happen next for him.
But in case he’s wrong, he doesn’t plan on having any indecision about what he’ll do in the near future.
Gustafsson (16-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) is supposed to be next in line for the light heavyweight title, meeting the winner of champion Jon Jones (19-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Glover Teixeira (22-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) after their April fight. But hey, what if Jones loses the title in a close fight? The UFC has been known to order up rematches in the past.
So what would Gustafsson do in that case, if suddenly his next-in-line status was pushed back a bit?
“I’d probably fight someone else, then,” Gustafsson on Tuesday told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’m a fighter and I want to fight. Basically, if Jones beats Teixeira, I want that title shot right away. If he doesn’t win (and they give him a rematch), then I’ll have to look at other possibilities. But I’m fighting whoever they gave me. That’s just the way I am.”
Jones and Teixeira headline UFC 172 on April 26 at Baltimore Arena. The champ is a heavy favorite to defend his belt a seventh time.
Gustafsson earlier this month cemented his shot at a rematch with Jones by becoming the first fighter to take out England’s Jimi Manuwa. The tall Swede knocked Manuwa out at UFC Fight Night 37 in London. After the fight, UFC President Dana White said Gustafsson was locked in for his title shot.
“If Jones wins, we have a nasty rematch,” White said. “If he doesn’t, then it’s [Gustafsson] and Glover Teixeira.”
Unless, of course, the Jones-Teixeira rematch possibility were to take hold. But that’s not something Gustafsson believes will happen.
“I think Jones is going to win the fight by decision,” he said. “Glover is a great fighter and a very tough fighter. Jones has to respect his power – he’s a dangerous fighter with a knockout chance. But Jones has too many tools for Glover, and I don’t think Glover is fast enough for Jones. He’s the type of fighter that fits Jones very well.”
The fight with Jones is something Gustafsson has been wanting to play back since this past September, when he dropped a decision to him at UFC 165. It was a fight that many observers thought should have gone Gustafsson’s way. It also was a fight that put Jones and Gustafsson in the hospital afterward – though Jones was much worse for the wear.
“It took me a while, actually, to get over it,” Gustafsson said. “The physical part of it was very easy. I wasn’t that banged up. I was back in training after two weeks. But it was the mental things, the motivation, and I was so disappointed over everything. So it took a while. But when I heard I was fighting Jimi Manuwa, I knew I had to let the past go and get 100 percent focused on Manuwa. I knew that guy was very dangerous and hits very hard. So I just let the past go and saw my next challenge.”
With Manuwa now in the rearview mirror, he’s looking ahead to Jones, he hopes. And he acknowledges that the champ is “the best guy out there.”
But Gustafsson, whose only loss the past four years or so is to Jones, wonders if the titleholder wants much to do with him in a rematch. If he doesn’t, Gustafsson believes there’s not really another good option.
“In my mind, Jones is doing everything he can to not fight me. He doesn’t want to fight me,” he said. “So I think he’s trying to mix things up. But the only fight that makes sense for me right now is if he wins against Teixeira, is me fighting him.”
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.
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