After three failed title shots and then a humbling defeat to Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith, Alexander Gustafsson stepped away from the Octagon in June 2019.
He is arguably one of the best light-heavyweights in UFC history and yet he never won the big one. Despite many people believing he beat Jon Jones in their first fight, the record books say different. He then was humbled by Jones in the rematch and in between those bouts was humbled by Daniel Cormier. All three bouts were for the 205lbs strap and all three times he was on the losing side.
After he was tapped out by Smith last year in his hometown of Stockholm, Gustafsson took the mic and told the world that he obviously wasn’t good enough anymore and left his gloves in the cage stating “the show is over”.
Now though, he’s back – and he’s a heavyweight.
After bulking up over this period away from the cage, Gustafsson has made the decision to return to fighting and will take on Fabricio Werdum in the co-main event of the final Fight Island card of the month.
He comes into the bout with a new found love for the sport and with an ageing opponent who is still full of quality, he has a big chance to make waves in his new division. A win over Werdum doesn’t put him into title contention or realistically anywhere close. The likes of Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior Dos Santos, Alexander Volkov, Derrick Lewis will all be ahead of him and even then they’re not considered to be in contention. But it gets him on the ladder.
His boxing style will undoubtedly cause problems for Werdum, who will want to get this fight on the ground as quickly as possible to avoid the power of the Swede. Gustafsson showed in his defeats to Jones and Smith that he’s not the best when it comes to the ground game, but he is more than capable of stopping it getting there with his defence.
If he can keep the agility and fleet-footedness that made him such a threat at 205lbs, he will likely be able to defeat Werdum and then look up the division. With Cormier due to retire, Miocic and Ngannou will lead the division going into the future. Since their names aren’t Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier, Gustafsson will fancy his chances if he manages to make his way back to a title fight for the UFC.