Alexander Gustafsson won his semi-main event fight yesterday against Jan Blachowicz in Germany on UFC Fight Night (Mike Hiscoe’s full report here). If he lost, it would’ve been a big setback as he was the heaviest favorite of all fights on the card.
At the post-fight press conference, he was asked if he felt pressure because of that, and because he had lost three of his last four (all against elite in his Light Heavyweight division – Daniel Cormier in a split decision, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in a crushing first round beatdown in his home country, and a very close judges’ decision loss against Jon Jones).
“No not really,” he said. “I just felt good to be back in the Octagon and having fun in the cage. It felt good. I take one fight at a time right now, so we’ll see what’s the next challenge.”
Because he fought Jon Jones to close in 2013, he was always one or two big wins away from a rematch for the title. He acknowledges with his recent record, building on this win is more important than demanding a title rematch more than three years after his career-boosting performance against Jone.
“I don’t really care that much,” he said when asked if he wants to move to the front of the line to face Jon Jones, perhaps setting up a potential “winner faces winner of Cormier-Johnson for the belt” situation. “I just wanna start winning again because it was a tough year last year. I feel great being in the Octagon and competing again. Of course my goal is to be a contender again and to fight for the belt again.
Cervantes Analysis: Gustafsson took a step forward in the right direction of what may be a long path back to the title. He looked strong in his battles against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. If the UFC decides to go the route of Jones vs. Johnson, I could see Gustafsson getting the loser of that bout and potentially earning another shot. If not, Johnson will face Cormier and the UFC would still likely grant Jones a shot at the winner of that fight, meaning more time for Gustafsson to have to wait for his next shot.
[MMATorch editor Wade Keller contributed to this report.]