The stars haven’t been aligning very well for Alexander Gustafsson’s return to the UFC. It took the promotion forever to find an acceptable opponent for the Swede in Volkan Oezdemir, only to have their UFC 227 fight on August 4th called off due to an Oezdemir injury. Just now at UFC Hamburg, up-and-coming contender Anthony “Lionheart” Smith called out Gustafsson after delivering a violent knockout of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Alas, it’s just been announced that Gustafsson is now officially off 227 with a ‘minor injury.’
”Alex Gustafsson is out of UFC 227 with a minor injury,” a statement from Gustafsson’s management read. “The injury occurred last week. Since that time, we have been working closely with the UFC doctors, our doctors in Sweden, and the experts at the UFC Performance Institute. We have been advised that Alex has a minor injury, and he will not be permitted to compete at UFC 227.”
”Had Alex been fit to fight, we were prepared to face [Khalil] Rountree or anyone else the UFC had asked us, including [Daniel] Cormier at heavyweight. Alex will be fighting again very soon. He will give his side of the story shortly. We don’t care who the opponent is. But whomever we face it should be for the meaningful result of the LHW UFC Title.”
What timing, huh?
But for those suspicious of this turn of events, note his management claims they’ve been in touch with the UFC regarding this injury since Oezdemir pulled out, so don’t take this as evidence Alex doesn’t want to fight Smith. He doesn’t want to fight anyone, at least not without a solid guarantee it will lead him to a light heavyweight title shot.
Gustafsson hasn’t fought since May of 2017 when he knocked out Glover Teixeira in the fifth round at UFC Sweden. Before that it was another prolonged break going back to September of 2016, and before that his last title fight against Daniel Cormier in October of 2015. At this rate Gustafsson is getting into the cage roughly once a year, and you better believe each match needs to get him closer to the title, although waiting that long between defenses sounds kinda crappy to us.