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Gustafsson: Beating Jon Jones more important than becoming UFC champ

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Gustafsson vs Teixeira Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Which is more important: Winning a world title, or beating the best fighter on earth?

Alexander Gustafsson is leaning toward the latter, a feat he nearly accomplished with a razor-thin decision loss to Jon Jones at UFC 165 back in late 2013. The fight was so compelling (and so close) the promotion booked an immediate rematch.

Then this happened.

“The Mauler” did get his crack at the crown, but came up short against Daniel Cormier in what was yet another close decision loss for the towering Swede. Not much has changed since then, as “DC” is still wearing the light heavyweight strap.

Which he got for losing to the chemically-enhanced Jones.

“Fighting him and beating him, that’s bigger than taking the belt right now, that’s how I feel,” Gustafsson told the Joe Rogan podcast (via MMA Fighting). “Look at what he did to DC. And DC is tough. He finished DC. That’s just insane.”

Jones stopped Cormier at UFC 214 last July, the second time he’s triumphed over the Olympian after capturing a decision way back at UFC 182, but had his win overturned to a “No Contest” after flunking his corresponding drug test.

“I’m telling you, that guy is such a beast,” Gustafsson continued. “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, shit just comes up all the time. He doesn’t even need that steroid. He doesn’t need that shit in him. He’s still the best guy out there.”

Gustafsson (18-4) remains sidelined while Cormier returns to the heavyweight division for a super fight against reigning 265-pound titleholder Stipe Miocic. His success (or failure) at UFC 226 could dictate the future of the 205-pound division.

Where the grass is always greener safer on the other side.

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