Alexander Gustafsson surprised many when he walked away from MMA after a submission loss to Anthony Smith one year ago, but now “The Mauler” is coming out of hibernation for a try at the UFC’s growing heavyweight division, per a recent report by MMA Junkie (Brazilian news outlet Combate originally broke the news).
While nothing is official, Gustafsson is expected to take on former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum on July 25 on UFC’s “Fight Island,” which is a location still undetermined.
Gustafsson, 33, is widely regarded as one of the best UFC light heavyweights of all time who never won a title. With title shots against legendary champions like Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, it’s no wonder that “Mauler” struggled to win the big one. Gustafsson’s most recent UFC title shot came against Jones at UFC 232, which saw “Bones” win via third-round TKO.
Regardless of losing his final two appearances inside of the Octagon Gustafsson should make a great addition to the UFC’s heavyweight division. The towering Swede most certainly has the physical attributes to compete with the biggest fighters on the roster, but it’s going to be interesting to see how motivated and dedicated the former light heavyweight is after coming out of retirement.
Gustafsson’s heavyweight arrival couldn’t be coming at a better time as Cormier is one fight away from retirement, current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is months away from competition, and Jones just had his bid for a heavyweight move denied in dramatic fashion.
UFC’s upcoming event on July 25 already includes a middleweight clash between former champion Robert Whittaker and former UFC welterweight title challenger Darren Till.
Stick with Mania for more news on Gustafsson’s return.