After Alexander Gustafsson had his title shot hopes violently dashed by Anthony Johnson in January, the light-heavyweight reportedly thought about hanging up the gloves…
Back in January, all the pieces were in place for Gustafsson to lock up a rematch with Jon Jones, as “The Mauler” was booked to fight Johnson in a title shot eliminator. Not only that, but Gustafsson faced Johnson at the massive Tele2 Arena in his native Sweden, and in the headliner of UFC on FOX 14. Next to his 2013 fight with the champion Jones, it was unquestionably the biggest fight of Gustafsson’s career.
The bout ended up being a disaster for Gustafsson, however, as Johnson put him away with punches in the opening round. It was a huge setback for the Swedish star, and is likely why he recently told Sarp Yesil at Expressen the following (translation via MMA Mania.com):
“It has definitely been my most difficult period in life so far. I was completely serious about quitting MMA. I don’t care really about the title, it was that it happened in front of my home crowd. My cousins were in place. I just took it too hard. I didn’t have the will to continue. I was really close to quitting. But I have received so much love from fans, loved ones and my team. I had to bite the sour apple and now I have a new fight that made me very motivated. If I had not wanted to do this anymore, I would have stopped. But I want to continue. There is no doubt about it. No one is forcing me. I’m not doing this for money, but to be the best in the world.”
It’s easy to understand why Gustafsson was so disappointed, as there was obviously a ton riding on the bout with Johnson. In addition, since Gustafsson is really the only man to date who has truly tested Jones, the entire MMA world was hoping to see the two throw down again. Of course, that could still happen at some juncture, but it could be a while.
Case in point, Gustafsson is booked to fight Glover Teixeira on June 20th at a Fight Night card in Germany. The 28 year-old needs to win that fight if he hopes to secure another title shot in the next year or so.
Johnson, on the other hand, is scheduled to face Jones at UFC 187 on May 23rd.