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Alexander Gustafsson wants title-shot with win over Mauricio Rua

Few fighters in the UFC light heavyweight division are as deserving of a crack at the championship as Alexander Gustafsson. The 14-1 Swede has emerged with his hand raised inside the Octagon on five consecutive occasions including dominant performances against Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Thiago Silva. However, like the rest of his 205-pound peers, Gustafsson has taken a back seat to Chael Sonnen who essentially talked his way into a title-shot.

Though Gustafsson harbors no ill will towards Sonnen, he is definitely focused on a go at the gold in 2013 assuming he beats Mauricio Rua on December 8 at UFC on FOX 5.

“I want to fight the champ after this fight. My focus is on ‘Shogun’, 100 percent, but when I win the fight I want to fight for the belt,” explained Gustafsson in an interview on UFC Ultimate Insider, saying he would even go so far as to start publicly lobbying for the opportunity if need be.

Of course, as Gustafsson also made clear, he already has a challenge on his hands to deal with before lending any significant energy towards his end goal of becoming champion. Rua is one of MMA’s legitimate legends and a former title-holder, not to mention an opponent Gustafsson has idolized for years.

“It’s a fight I’ve been looking forward to since I was young and started my career. It’s a good opportunity for me to show the world I belong with the top guys in my division,” said the 25-year old before going into how he expects the fight to unfold. “It will be a stand-up war. ‘Shogun’ is a very aggressive fighter and he hits very hard but he doesn’t have proper technique. I will be fast, I will keep my technique, keep my gameplan…I will stay on the outside, I will take my time.”

“If you go in to try to finish you will get finished yourself, so you have to stick to your gameplan and be adaptable in the fight…take initiative, focus on your gameplan, and the finish will come,” he concluded.

The complete interview with Gustafsson can be found below:


  • raker says:

    Someone that wants to fight Jones and is not a middleweight…. Awesome!!

  • MCM says:

    Nice raker.

    I hope he does call out Jones after he finishes Shogun. (Yes. I wrote finish.) I love a good call out and with a killer like Gustafsson, how can you not give him the shot.

  • Niv says:

    Nothing against the kid but Shogun’s knocking this kid out. Too early to give up on Shotgun, even though he looks like a shadow of his former self.

  • Creature says:

    when Hendo beats Machida, he is the rightful number 1 contender hands down. I like Gus but hes 2nd in line even with a spectacular win over Shogun.

  • Rece Rock says:

    I said it once before… If the Shogun that showed up in that fight against Vera is the one fighting Gustafsson, it’s going to be a rough night for Rua.

  • Richard Stabone says:

    I would think Gustafsson was one of the guys who turned down the opportunity to fight Jones on a weeks’ notice. Shogun too. I mean, DW went on & on about how Chael was the only guy willing to step up to take the fight, so clearly there were other guys who passed on the offer. We know Machida turned it down, and logic would suggest Shogun & Alex would have been two of the next names on the list that the UFC contacted. These guys all want a shot at the champion, but they’ve worked hard to earn their spot in line and to throw it away by taking an ill-advised fight with virtually no time to properly train/prepare would be a foolish career move. Of course, if you haven’t won a single fight in the division and have nothing to lose…fuggit. Way to go, Chael.

    Back to the topic at hand, it’ll be interesting to see how this fight plays out. Definitely a step up in competition for Gustafsson, as he was finished by the only top-10 opponent he’s faced (submission loss to Phil Davis). But Alex figures to have improved since then, and this could be a case of a fighter on his way up against a fighter on his way down.

    But even with a victory, it’s pretty unlikely Alex will get a title shot next time out. Jones has to fight Chael in April, and if Hendo is able to beat Machida he would absolutely get the next shot ahead of Gustafsson. I suppose if Machida wins then it could be a little more of a toss-up, but I still have to think Machida would get the nod. Oh well, those things tend to take care of themselves… Alex has a big challenge ahead of him and needs to get by Shogun before worrying about what’s next.

  • MCM says:

    Forgot about Hendo.

    If Hendo gets by Machida, I have no problem with him being awarded the first shot at the belt. If Machida wins, he should fight at least two more times before being back in title contention IMO. Gustafsson earns his right to a title fight with a win over Shogun, and the Spider can walk into a title fight anytime he wants. Hendo, Alex, and A.Silva are the only ones ready for a title fight, everyone else is two to three fights away.

    On a side note, I love how people bring up the fact that Alex lost to Davis as a reason why he’s not ready for a title shot, but neglect the fact that Hendo lost to a Welterweight in Jake Shields only seven days after the Davis/Gustafsson fight.

  • Sumoninja says:

    I’m a huge Rua fan, but he’s hasn’t looked good in the last few fights, save the Hendo one where he took a massive amount of damage. Lots of hard miles on him, for sure. Also, Gus has the blueprint for how a long-reached fighter can beat him…just watch the Jones fight. I don’t see quite the level of crazy creativity and talent Jones has in Gus, but it’s close, and I’d love to see those two throw down since they’re similar style and build.

  • Richard Stabone says:

    Jones should be fighting Hendo in early 2013, which would have put Gustafsson next in line with a victory over Shogun. Ah, but that would be too easy.

    Because of the UFC 151 fiasco, and because the UFC wasn’t willing to simply put it behind them & move forward, we’ve got this whole other chain reaction of silliness that has complicated the picture and will severely delay a potential title shot for Alex.

    If Gustafsson & Machida both win, I’d be completely fine with Alex getting the next shot. I haven’t been interested in seeing Lyoto get another shot so soon (we’re still less than a year removed from JBJ choking him unconscious), and never understood the supposed uproar a few months back in response to JBJ suggesting fans wouldn’t be excited to see him fight Lyoto again. But for Alex, he definitely needs to beat a top-10 guy to be considered deserving of a shot at the belt, and he’ll get that opportunity next weekend. But even if he wins, he’ll have a lengthy wait for tha title shot…

    April 2013 – Jones vs. Chael

    Late summer / early fall – Jones vs. Hendo (Machida?)

    Late 2013 / more likely early 2014 – Jones vs. Gustafsson

    If Machida beats Hendo, perhaps that opens the door for Alex to get the next shot at Jones but that’s a pretty iffy proposition. Dana was already touting Lyoto as the #1 contender months ago, and now Lyoto would be coming off a victory over the consensus #1 contender. Again, I’d be fine with Alex getting the shot ahead of Lyoto but–for better or worse–I just don’t see it playing out that way. Even with a win next weekend, I think Alex will be forced to take another fight in 2013 before he gets a crack at Jones.

    But hey, Chael gets to fight for the belt, so that’s pretty cool.

  • This is a great standup fight. Say what you will about Shogun looking bad against Vera, I disagree, I think Vera came ready to play ball that night and he just happened to get his ass whooped. That was the best Vera we’ve seen since he knocked out Mir. Shogun showed a gritty performance and a weakness, if someone can keep him at distance, they can strike with him. Now as we all saw Vera couldnt and look what happened. Gus is a much more technical striker and a much more traditional dutchstyle kick boxer.

    This is technical dutch style vs beserker muay thai. If Gus can keep shogun at the end of his range, he’s going to methodically whoop shogun’s ass over 3 rounds. If Shogun can do what he likes and come plowing in and throw twenty punch kick and knee combos at a time, it’ll be his night.
    The only question I have is, how well has Alex’s submission defense improved? I personally dont count his loss against Davis as a factor as to why he shouldnt get a title shot( it was a LONG time ago and since then Aleex has gone 5-0 with all but one coming by way of finish) but it does make me wonder how he’ll fair against a great grappler like Rua.

    This fight could have been a main event if there werent a title fight on the card. Anyone who doesnt like this fight(or at least the prospect of what is most likely to unfold when these two fight) isnt a fan of fighting.

  • AlphaOmega says:

    I think most people saying Shogun/Vera fight being bad are looking at the last rounds, because both fighters were tired and gassed and it was pretty bad, especially when Vera just put his hands down right in front of Shogun


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