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Khamzat Chimaev, Jack Hermansson praise Swedish MMA pioneer Alexander Gustafsson: ‘He’s the champ for us’

Alexander Gustafsson might be removed from his glory days, but his career achievements have not been forgotten.

“The Mauler” suffered another rough setback at UFC London, losing in just 67 seconds to Nikita Krylov. It was the fourth straight loss for the Swedish star, who hasn’t won a fight since defeating Glover Teixeira in May 2017.

Following that loss, two of Sweden’s most notable fighters, Khamzat Chimaev and Jack Hermansson, appeared on The MMA Hour and they spoke glowingly of Gustafsson, with Chimaev — currently No. 3 at welterweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — going as far as to say that he might not be where he is today were it not for Gustafsson blazing a trail.

“It’s bad,” Chimaev said of Gustafsson’s loss. “Really bad. That guy is such a nice guy, he helped us a lot. Why I became the fighter I am. Maybe if Alex wasn’t a leader in Sweden, being that good fighter, maybe I don’t start MMA. Maybe I don’t show up in the UFC. All the guys from Sweden who fight thank Alex because of him we are on the top. From Sweden, like five or six guys in the UFC. Before Alex there was almost nobody there.

“When he fought Jon Jones, everyone became crazy, everyone started to train MMA. For us, he’ll always be the champion. He didn’t get the belt, but he’s the champ for us.”

Chimaev immigrated to Sweden from Chechnya at 18. Ten years later, he emerged as one of the UFC’s most popular fighters with a perfect 5-0 record for the promotion, including a recent win over one-time welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns. Next, he fights Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 279 on Sept. 10.

Hermansson is a native of Sweden who is now based out of Norway. “The Joker” also competed at UFC London, where he defeated Chris Curtis by unanimous decision in the co-main event.

In Hermansson’s eyes, Gustafsson is still the best fighter ever from their country.

“I watched it while I was warming up,” Hermansson said. “It was sad to see. Alex is a hero, he has been doing so much for the sport. The greatest MMA athlete coming out of Sweden, so he’s a legend and I always wish him the best.”

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