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Alexander Gustafsson: Jon Jones 'didn't perform like he used to' at UFC 172

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Esther Lin

"He didn't perform like he used to" could be 2014's version of "I'm not impressed by your performance."

UFC light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson isn't one to talk trash, but he's also not going to mince his words when asked to give his opinion.

And Gustafsson seems to believe that the champion in his weight class, Jon Jones, is a different fighter now than he was when the two tangled in an epic, five-round battle at UFC 165 in September.

Gustafsson watched Saturday night as Jones, in his first fight back since defeating Gustafsson via a narrow unanimous decision, defeated Glover Teixeira via across-the-board 50-45 scores at UFC 172.

Chiming in via Skype from Sweden on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Gustafsson's assessment was similar in tone to the words famously uttered by Georges St-Pierre before his second fight with Matt Hughes in 2006.

"He was dominating Glover from the beginning, no doubt about it," Gustafsson said. "But, I don't know it seemed like he didn't perform like he used to do. I thought that, I don't know, he did enough to win the fight basically.

"We used to see spectacular things with Jon Jones when he fights. He mixed things up and he did it in this fight too. But he didn't do it like he used to do in his previous fights."

For his part, Jones hasn't wanted to say too much about Gustafsson, whom Jones is expected to rematch in his next fight. At the UFC 172 post-fight press conference, Jones refused to talk about "that kid," and in a FOX Sports interview, he referred to Gustafsson as arrogant.

Gustafsson takes this as a sign he has gotten into Jones' head.

"I think I'm in his head now," Gustafsson said. "I've been learning a lot in my years, it's not just the fight itself, its a lot mentally fighting each other, that's something I learned later days. I realize now it's very important. I think it's all in his head now and he gets irritated just by my name. I think that's good. I'm not a trash talker, that's not my thing. But if someone asks me, I'm going to say what I feel and what I think."

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UFC president Dana White floated the idea the fight could be held at a retractable-roof soccer stadium in Gustafsson's home base of Stockholm, an idea that obviously appeals to the challenger.

"It would be a dream come true for me," he said.

A potential snag would be the fact that the main event would hit the Octagon somewhere in the vicinity of 4 a.m. local time, since this is too big of a bout not to hold during prime time in North America. Gustafsson is convinced, however, that this would not be a deterrent for local fight fans.

"It wouldn't be a problem," said Gustafsson. "They'll be there."

Gustafsson has had plenty of time to think about the loss to Jones in September, in which he came out strong, but Jones rallied in the championship rounds to retain his belt.

Jones, for his part, says the he fought the first bout at 80 percent, a notion at which Gustafsson scoffed.

"If he fought at 80 percent, I would have finished him," Gustafsson said.

This time, then, Gustafsson has every intention of going for the finish, something he emphasized with his brutal second-round TKO of Jimi Manuwa in London in March.

"I'm a whole new type of fighter now," said Gustafsson. "There's going to be a finish. A win is a win, but a decision for me is not an option any more."