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Alexander Gustafsson says Jon Jones shut him down ‘very early’ in UFC 232 rematch: ‘I couldn’t move at all’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Alexander Gustafsson waited five years for the chance to avenge his controversial loss to Jon Jones, but ultimately the song remained the same.

Gustafsson suffered a resounding defeat to Jones on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 232, which took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California. While the first meeting between the two light heavyweight titans in 2013 is remembered as a legendary battle of attrition that ended in a razor-thin decision for the American, the second iteration was little more than a blowout, as Jones dominated Gustafsson en route to reclaiming his UFC light heavyweight title with a lopsided third-round TKO victory.

“I’m disappointed,” Gustafsson said Saturday night at UFC 232’s post-fight press conference. “Very disappointed, but it’s sport and it’s a fight. We did our best in the Octagon and this was the outcome, so I just have to take it. Take it like a man.”

Jones bested Gustafsson from pillar to post in UFC 232’s long-awaited rematch, outstriking and outwrestling the Swede in each of the first two rounds before taking Gustafsson down to the canvas and pouring on a maelstrom of offense to secure a ground-and-pound stoppage at 2:02 of the third frame. Jones ultimately outlanded Gustafsson by a margin of 126 to 48, and Gustafsson admitted afterward that Jones stifled his gameplan and had him hurt within the opening exchanges of the fight.

“I just hurt my groin in there, and Jon, he knew exactly what to do to stop my footwork and stop my movement and my flow, my distance,” Gustafsson said. “So he just made sure I couldn’t move anymore. That was it. He took me down and I couldn’t get up.

“He got me very, very early in the first round, very early, and after that I just shut down. I wasn’t tired. I had my conditioning, I felt good. I felt good, and we had our exchanges and everything, but he just shut me down very early in the first round and that was it, and I couldn’t move at all.

“I wanted to move,” Gustafsson added. “I wanted to stay light, move around like I always do basically, but after that first exchange, I just couldn’t follow up my gameplan. And then I was more in his distance and I was working on my boxing there, but he moved around and I couldn’t really follow his movement. I fought his game today.”

The loss is likely a difficult one to stomach for Gustafsson, considering that much of the past five years of his career has been building toward a rematch against Jones.

Still just 31 years old, Gustafsson acknowledged that it’s possible he entertains a move up to the heavyweight division in the future, but for now he remains focused on securing a fourth crack at the UFC light heavyweight title through whatever means is necessary.

“Let’s see what happens,” Gustafsson said. “You just have to heal up from this and then you take it from there and move on. It’s a sport. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win.

“I’m glad I took the fight and I’m glad that I got to fight Jon again. It’s just been a good ride and I’ve been enjoying it, every minute of it. It is what it is.

“It’s not over yet,” he added.

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