Other than Dan Henderson, no fighter was as affected by the UFC’s decision to award Chael Sonnen with a crack at light heavyweight Jon Jones’ championship so much as Alexander Gustafsson. The 25-year old Swede was thought to be on the cusp of top contendership after racking up wins in five straight scraps including recent victories over Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Thiago Silva. However, with Jones busy until mid-2013 thanks to Sonnen leapfrogging the rest of the division, the title-shot Gustafsson was gunning for after notching one more victory is far from the certainty it once seemed to be.
Regardless, it doesn’t appear as though Gustafsson was disheartened by the development because his focus has been solely on opponent Mauricio Rua rather than any potential pairings after their December 8 meeting at UFC on FOX 5.
“I never look past any opponent. When I beat ‘Shogun’ I will be more than prepared to fight for a title,” explained Gustafsson on Inside MMA, saying Rua was simply an obstacle to overcome if hoping to achieve his dreams. “I want to fight the champ. That’s my main goal…to bring the belt back to Sweden.”
When it comes to their clash, the 14-1 Gustafsson made it clear he was prepared to stand with Rua but wouldn’t deny the possibility of deciding to mix it up by shooting in and making the Brazilian work from his back.
“I will try to stay on the outside and use my range, my footwork,” began Gustafsson, adding, “You never know in a fight. Sometimes you have to do different stuff – take the initiative and adapt. It is gonna be a great fight for the fans.”
Considering the prowess both men have shown when it comes to scoring stoppages there’s little doubt surrounding the truth of Gustafsson’s closing statement. He has finished 12 of the 14 opponents he’s beaten including nine by way of strikes in comparison to the 21-6 Rua having eighteen TKOs to his credit.
Check out the full segment with Gustafsson below:
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC