When Daniel Cormier knocked out Stipe Miocic to claim the heavyweight title at UFC 226, Miocic wasn’t the only person to lose something that night. Number one light heavyweight contender, Alexander Gustafsson, potentially lost the title shot he’s been waiting on for more than a year.
Gustafsson cemented himself as the top contender in the 205-pound division with a scintillating knockout of Glover Teixeira last May, but injuries kept him from being able to cash in on his presumed title shot. Now, with Cormier having successfully won a second title in another division, Gustafsson says he’s frustrated by the possibility that Cormier may not defend the light heavyweight belt anytime soon.
“It’s frustrating because he has something I want,” Gustafsson told MMANytt recently. “He doesn’t come back down and face me and he’s keeping the belt. But at the same time, the hunt isn’t over. ... I might continue chasing [DC]. If I need to move up to heavyweight to face him, I will.”
Cormier and Gustafsson faced off once before, with Cormier taking a split decision win in a 2015 Fight of the Year candidate. Gustafsson has been trying to get a second crack at Cormier since then but so far has been unsuccessful and now, it looks like he may lose his spot to a guy who hasn’t officially won a fight in over eight years. It’s enough to get on anyone’s nerves, even if he understands why the fight will happen.
“It’s not fun and pretty ridiculous in my opinion,” Gustafsson said of the Lesnar fight. “I don’t see the logic in this fight. It’s only a money fight [because] Brock has a big following from wrestling.
“I understand DC though. He wants to make money. It’s a better fight for his wallet, fighting Brock instead of going down to fight me. It’s a way bigger risk to fight me.”
Gustafsson, whose fight with Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 227 fell off Wednesday, has a point. Cormier struggled mightily with “The Mauler” in their first encounter and coming up short in their rematch could jeopardize Cormier’s future payday fight with Lesnar. Perhaps that’s why Cormier has thrown out the possibility of taking on former champion Mauricio Rua, should “Shogun” get past Anthony Smith this weekend. Gustafsson believes that proves that Cormier doesn’t want the rematch, or at least, it would if Cormier actually had any intention of returning to 205, which Gustafsson doubts.
“It’s funny, it’s clear he doesn’t want to face me,” Gustafsson said. “First of all, he is never coming back down to light heavyweight. He is struggling to stay at heavyweight. DC is a big boy, as tall as he is wide. I don’t think he will go down again. He loves food and loves to eat. To sacrifice so much with dieting and food and then going down to face me? I think I will have to move to heavyweight to get a piece of DC again.”
That could be bad news for Gustafsson, since he believes Cormier to be a better fighter at heavyweight than at light heavyweight. Still, Gustafsson is adamant that he wants to face Cormier one more time before the “Champ Champ” hangs up his gloves for good come March. Not because he dislikes Cormier, but because he wants resolution.
“DC is smart and he’s a big inspiration for me,” concluded Gustafsson. “Thirty-nine years old and two belts. I can’t really trash the guy and I can’t really have beef with him. I think he’s great in every way, it just sucks that he has my belt. Let’s see how we solve it.”