Saturday, Gustafsson stated his case for another title fight with a swift and brutal finish of Jimi Manuwa in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 37 main event at London's O2 Arena.
"Jon Jones, I want my title shot again," Gustafsson (16-2) said. "I'm right here, whenever you want."
Gustafsson took control of the bout from the outset Saturday, scoring a takedown and dominating from the top for much of the first round. Manuwa (14-1), though, hung tough and got the bout back to their feet in the round's final minute.
"The Mauler" didn't take long to finish things off in the second, however. Gustafsson landed a brutal knee in the clinch, followed with a nasty right uppercut, then caught Manuwa with another right as he crashed to the mat. Referee Marc Goddard waved off the bout at 1:18.
"It feels amazing, I've been working so hard," Gustafsson said. "All I know was, I don't know, maybe I should take him down, but I caught him standing too, you never know."
The first two rounds were surprisingly tentative. Guillard seemed content to circle and counter, and scored the only offense of note in the first round, as he dropped Johnson with a right uppercut. In the second, Johnson sealed the round late as he tagged Guillard and then briefly dropped him with a big knee.
In the third, Johnson noticeably picked up the intensity, as he decisively got the best of Guillard (31-13-2, 2 NC), scoring an early takedown and picking him apart in the standup the rest of the way. The referee missed a late eye poke against Guillard, but realistically, the fight was already all but lost.
Johnson (15-8) wasn't too impressed with his foe after the bout.
"After all the BS he was talking, I was expecting him to come out and try to finish me," Johnson said. "But he ran the whole fight. I feel like I've got the best standup in this division and I'm not afraid to show it against anybody."
London's Brad Pickett (24-8) made a successful flyweight debut with a unanimous decision victory over a game Ireland's Neil Seery. The fighter known as "One Punch" took a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Seery (13-10), a native of Dublin, took the bout on short notice when Ian McCall needed to drop out. Pickett outclassed Seery on the ground, but Seery hung in there, and surprisingly held his own when the fight was standing. Still, it wasn't enough, as Pickett, a former longtime bantamweight, etched his first win at 125 pounds.
"Im a little disappointed to not get a stoppage there especially in front of my hometown fans," Seery said. "Neil just kind of hung on and never allowed to me do anything."
In the main-card opener, Iceland's Gunnar Nelson built on his reputation as a finisher, using a rear-naked choke to defeat Omari Akmedov. Nelson won the welterweight bout at 4:36 of the first round via guillotine choke for his eighth submission win among his 12 victories.
Nelson scored a quick takedown on Akhmedov (12-2), who had an 11-fight win streak snapped. Nelson opened up a cut with ground-and-pound elbows and seized the first opportunity to work the choke, causing a quick tapout.
"I took a few minutes to feel out his movements and then when I got him on the ground I tried to soften him up," said Nelson (12-0-1), who improved to 3-0 in the UFC. "Eventually I was able to get a good choke on him and end things. I knew I had to be accurate as he is a very powerful puncher."
The Swedish Latifi, who gained fame last year when he substituted for Alexander Gustafsson on short notice and went the distance against Gegard Mousasi last April, got emotional after finishing Diabate at 3:02 of the first round.
"I prepared a lot for this fight and it feels great to get a win that fast," Latifi (9-3, 1 no-contest) said. "Cyril posed many challenges - he's got dangerous striking and a huge rach which can pose problems. It's amazing to think 10 or 15 years ago I was watching the original UFC events and now Im fighting and winning in them. This is one of the best moments of my life."
The 40-year old Diabate, meanwhile, announced his retirement from MMA after the fight.
"Obviously I'm disappointed but now I walk away from the sport," said Diabate (19-10-1). "I want to thank my fans and the guys who have helped me train over the years. I will focus on teaching now."
After British fighters dropped the evening's first three fights, Cambridge's Luke Barnatt gave the O2Arena crowd something to cheer.
The middleweight took a bit of time figuring out his range against Sweden's Mats Nilsson. But once he did, he finished the fight in a hurry. The TUF 17 graduate unleashed an impressive array of strikes to finish off Nilsson (11-3-1), with a big knee doing the most damage. The fight was waved off at 4:24 of the first round.
"I felt a bit cold in the start but when he hit me with a right I woke up," Barnatt said. "It feels very good to be the first one to ever finish him."
Barnatt improved to 8-0 with six finishes.
In the evening's opening bout, flyweight Louis Gaudinot made quick work of Britain's Phil Harris. Gaudinot (8-3) wasted little time working Harris (22-12, 1 no-contest) into position for a guillotine choke, winning in 1:13 of the first round.
"That's what I'm training for, I know the fans want to see finishes, the UFC wants to see finishes," said Gaudinot, who has won two of his past three. "I was hunting for the guillotine, I knew I had it."