Alexander Gustafsson will look to get back on the winning track on June 1, 2019 when he returns to his home country to face Anthony Smith in the main event of the upcoming UFC Stockholm event in Sweden.
Last December at UFC 232, “The Mauler” came up short in his bid to dethrone current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones, losing to “Bones” for the second time after he suffered a third round knockout (see it).
Beating Smith, however, signifies a return to his winning ways and proof that he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level. A loss, however, has an even deeper impact, as it could very well mean that Alex simply doesn’t have it anymore.
“He’s a big hitter and he has a lot of heart and he has a lot of fights behind him,” Gustafsson told The MMA Hour. “He’s a guy with a good team behind him, and this is going to be a real challenge. And that’s why I’m doing this, to challenge myself. When I beat him, I’m going to just move in the rankings. If I don’t beat him, if he beats me, then maybe I don’t have it anymore. So I’ll just take it from there.”
After starting his career winning 15 of his first 16 bouts, “The Mauler” has dropped four of his last seven fights, three of them being championship bouts. Still, Alex’s comments are a bit surprising, as he is only 32 years old and seemingly has plenty of fight left in him.
While getting back to another title fight will be a bit tougher given all of the young talent coming up such as Thiago Santos, Dominick Reyes and the aforementioned Smith, the fact remains Gus’s only defeats over the last five years have come against Jones, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson.
Nothing to hang your head low over.
That said, only a fighter knows how much he has left in him. Should “Lionheart” — who was last seen losing to Jon Jones at UFC 235 a few weeks ago — hand him his second straight defeat, could we be seeing the end of “The Mauler’s” run inside the Octagon?