Alxander Gustafsson makes no bones about how he felt during the first week of April, when he was scrapped from his hometown main event due to a facial laceration in training.
"It was the worst week ever in my life," the UFC light heavyweight contender said.
But the roller coaster that is life in mixed martial arts has plenty of ups to go with the downs. As it turns out, Gustafsson emerges from April in a pretty good situation. His next fight is likely either a shot at Jon Jones' light heavyweight title, or a No. 1 contender's fight against former champ Lyoto Machida.
On Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Gustafsson told MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani that while his first choice is obviously a title shot, he'd be down to fight Machida if Jones' broken toe keeps him out of for a considerable length of time.
"I want to fight Jones. I want to fight for the title, that's what I want to do," Gustafsson said. Later, he added. "If Jones will be out for a longer time, I'd fight Machida if that's what the UFC wants. Of course, and if Machida wants it, no problem. I'll fight him."
The fight nicknamed "The Mauler," who has won six consecutive fights to vault his way toward the top of the division, hasn't competed since his December victory over former champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. The way he sees it, while a title shot is every fighter's dream, he also needs to stay active in order to be at the top of his game.
"I'm not going to wait," Gustafsson said. "I'm not going to wait for a long time. I fought 'Shogun' in December. I want to fight soon. I want to fight in a couple of months at least, I want to fight soon. If Jones can't fight, which I would understand because [his injury] looked very nasty, I'd fight Machida, too. If Jones can fight in few months, I would love to fight him."
The fact Gustafsson is thinking ahead demonstrates he's mostly put the chain of events which caused him to miss his UFC on Fuel 9 main event against Gegard Mousasi in his rear-view mirror. But that doesn't mean it was a fun period of time.
Gustafsson went to the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm to corner training partner Reza Medadi. But beyond that, he couldn't bring himself to watch the remainder of the show, and left the building as soon as Medadi's undercard bout was over.
"I didn't watch it live," Gustafsson said. "No, I couldn't. I was in there, I was in the training room with Ilir [Latifi] and Reza Medadi. I was in his corner and helped him out, I couldn't be there, I couldn't. I left the arena before the main event, I watched it the next day.
"I actually went there just to help my friend out, he asked to be in his corner so I couldn't say no," Gustafsson said. "But that was it, I couldn't be there, It didn't feel good. I felt like, if I'm going to be at the arena, I'm going to fight. If I'm not fighting, why should I be there, so, I just went home with my dogs. I watched the main event the day after."
Gustafsson wasn't happy with the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation's decision to prevent him from fighting, but he says he ultimately respects their choice.
"I have to respect the doctor's decision," he said. "Of course look for my safety first of all, and my best health. I have to respect them, but at the same time I would have fought with a broken hand if I could. It was my hometown. It was a big disappointment to me, it was a lot of emotions and thoughts through my head at that time."
The lanky light heavyweight has resumed training. But you won't catch him training without headgear any time soon.
"Even wrestling, now, I wear the helmet all the time," Gustafsson said. "I'm not going to make that mistake again ever in my life. I learn from it, never again."