When Alexander Gustafsson knocked out Glover Teixeira at UFC Stockholm last year, the general belief was that he also secured himself a title shot against the winner of the Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier rematch that would take place later in the year. Jones went on to defeat Cormier, but instead of a rematch of their 2013 Fight of the Year, Jones failed a USADA test causing his win to be overturned, Gustafsson got injured, and so Cormier defended the title against Volkan Oezdemir in January. But instead of Gustafsson now getting another crack at Cormier, the light heavyweight champion is on to greener pastures, a heavyweight title fight against Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. And that leaves Alexander Gustafsson and the rest of the 205-pound division in a very peculiar place.
Speaking on The Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show yesterday, Gustafsson discussed his feelings on the state of the light heavyweight division, saying that Cormier’s sojourn back up to heavyweight leaves the entire division in limbo.
“It does [put the belt in limbo],” said Gustafsson. “I didn’t see that superfight coming at all. It’s a great fight for them and for the fans and for the sport but for us standing in line, we’re just sitting there waiting for an opportunity and it’s not gonna come, it’s not gonna be there.”
Cormier began his MMA career as a heavyweight, going undefeated over 13 bouts and winning the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. He dropped down to 205 pounds both to avoid conflict with his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez and to pursue a fight with Jon Jones. The fight with Miocic will mark Cormier’s first fight above 205 pounds (not counting the magic towel) since 2013 and “DC” has made it clear he will retire from competition by March of next year. To Gustafsson, that means Cormier might not even return to the light heavyweight division to give him his shot at the title.
“I had my eyes on that gold,” said Gustafsson. “I actually counted on fighting DC but then it was all gone by him going up to Stipe. It’s a crazy situation. The whole division is crazy right now. We don’t even know if he comes back. Who knows what happens in that fight. . . DC s a really good heavyweight so who knows what happens.”
In a way though, if Cormier does stay at heavyweight for the remainder of his career, that leaves Gustafsson with limited options at light heavyweight, assuming Jones is suspended for his second failed USADA test, which Gustafsson says would be a real shame since Jones is the best fighter in the world.
“I’m telling you, that guy is such a beast,” said Gustafsson. “It’s so stupid because he’s the best guy, pound-for-pound out there. He’s done things nobody else has done. He’s just a beast and still, s**t just comes up all the time. He doesn’t even need that steroid. He doesn’t need that s**t in him. He’s still the best guy out there.”
Jones is facing up to a four-year suspension for his failure in relation to UFC 214, but Gustafsson hopes that doesn’t happen. Gustafsson says that he would love to rematch Jones because beating him would mean more than taking the title away from Cormier, since Jones, after all, stopped Cormier when they last fought.
“Fighting him and beating him, that’s bigger than taking the belt right now, that’s how I feel,” said Gustafsson. “Look at what he did to DC. And DC is tough. He finished DC. That’s just insane.”
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