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Alexander Gustafsson recovering from 'tough' 2015, won't make UFC return until his mind is right

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2015 wasn't the best year for Alexander Gustafsson.

After getting knocked out by Anthony Johnson in round one of their light heavyweight collision at UFC on FOX 14, "The Mauler" briefly contemplated retiring from the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). But, an unexpected title shot coming off a loss quickly derailed those plans.

Of course, Alex didn't have much luck against "DC," either, dropping a split decision to the 205-pound kingpin in Houston, Texas, at UFC 192. Four months removed from his back-to-back losses, "The Mauler" finds himself at a crossroad in his career, yet again.

As he revealed during his recent stop at The MMA Hour, the towering Swede talked about his fighting future and broke down a recent interview he gave in his native country of Sweden, one that prompted fans to question whether or not he's ever going to step back inside the cage.

"I'm just having a tough time with my motivations. Some days it's better, some days it's a little bit worse." explained Gustafsson. "I just tell my fans how it is and how it is to be a fighter on this level. That it's always tough with losses, 2015 was a tough year for me."

"So that's why I did that interview to tell them how I felt and how I feel. But, I feel better after I said it and now I'm in San Diego to change my environment a little bit. I'm feeling good," he added.

Admitting he needed to figure out what goes wrong in big fights after his defeat to Cormier, Gustafsson says quitting is not an option despite his roller coaster of emotions.

"I've been here before, it's hard to go from going one day being the best fighters in the world to stop doing what you love doing," he said. "I am a fighter and that's what I live for. Quitting is not an option if you put the cards on the table. It's just emotions, feelings, and thoughts that you battle everyday as an athlete."

His temporary move to San Diego to train at Alliance MMA, says Gus, is an attempt to find the happiness that training brings. After that, he'll look to get back into action, but only if it feels right.

"When I feel good in training, when I'm in peace and feel good in everything, we're going to look for a new challenge," declared "The Mauler," who insists he was not offered a Rashad Evans fight.

"Until then, I am just going to enjoy the training. I will fight in 2016. I just need a little bit of time to get on my feet and get my mind and motivation right. I just want to fight for the right reasons. You will see me fight this year," concluded Gustafsson.

When he does return to action, who would you like to see him face?

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