Alexander Gustafsson’s time as a UFC fighter has come to an end.
The towering Swede made the shocking revelation following his loss to Anthony Smith at UFC Stockholm by removing his gloves and declaring “the show is over,” much to the chagrin of his hometown crowd.
While there were those questioning, including those manning the desk on ESPN, whether it was just emotions on display or whether fans had indeed seen “The Mauler” for the final time, Gustafsson confirmed he was indeed hanging up his gloves for good.
“I’m feeling that it’s pretty much a done deal,” Gustafsson said during the post-fight press conference. “If you don’t feel you have it in you anymore then it is what it is. I had three title fights and, like I said, it’s been a great journey. This is it.”
As for how long the thought of possibility of retirement has floated around in his mind , Gustafsson immediately pointed to his last three failed bids bids to capture the UFC light heavyweight title against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier as major factors weighing on him.
“I feel like I don’t do this for money or because of anything else,” Gustafsson said. “I do this because I want to be the best and beat the best and if I can’t do that then it is what it is. I lost to Jon and that was the third title fight and I felt like because I got a little bit of an injury in that fight and I didn’t get to show my capacity. So I had some hope in me still and I felt this Anthony Smith fight would be a great comeback and start climbing again. But now I lose to Anthony too. It feels like I don’t have it in me anymore. It’s like a confirmation to myself because I lost my three title fights.”
Gustafsson (18-6) ends his time in the UFC with a record of 10-6, which includes stoppage wins over Glover Teixeira, Jimi Manuwa and Matt Hamill as well as decisions over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Thiago Silva and Jan Blachowicz.
His wins over Teixera and Silva both came in front of his hometown at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, a feat he points as highlights of his career. With this in mind, he only felt it was right to announce his decision on home soil.
“I felt it’s an honorable way to tell the crowd and the audience here tonight that this a decision I made,” Gustafsson. “It’s still so fresh and everything. But I feel deep inside that I’ve been digging hard and training hard. I was so relaxed and calm and it was still not enough. I don’t know what to do to start winning again. Maybe if I have that feeling in me then there’s no point for me to continue.”
So what’s next for the 32-year-old? Not even Gustafsson could answer that. Declaring he wished to speak with his team first, Gustafsson paused for moment as he looked back on career.
“I’ve been traveling the world, I’ve seen so much good places and I have so many new friends in my life,” Gustafsson said. “I am living a life today that I am very pleased with and happy with because of the UFC and the sport. I had two really good wins here in the Globe, which I will have with the rest of my life. It’s been a great journey.”