Alexander Gustafsson (15-1-0, 9 KOs) earned a shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light-heavyweight title with his unanimous decision victory against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at “UFC on Fox 5.”
Current light-heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, is currently filming the 17th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” with Chael Sonnen as the opposing coach, and the two will fight for the 205-pound division’s strap on April 27. “Bones” is confident he’ll emerge victorious against Sonnen, and he looks forward to testing his skills against Gustafsson.
“There are a lot of critics who say the reason I do so well is because I have a size advantage over most of my opponents, and I don’t think that’s really fair,” Jones said during an interview with MMAHEAT.com. “Fighting Gustafsson will kinda get that out of the way, that whole Jon Jones is bigger than everyone else thing.”
Like Jones, Gustafsson is also a rangy light-heavyweight, but he isn’t as efficient as Jon is in terms of utilizing his reach. “Bones” will still have a reach advantage against Gustafsson, but it’ll be interesting to see how the youngest champion in UFC history deals with an opponent with a similar physique.
“I think he has an awesome skill set; he throws his hands very well, good footwork,” Jon Jones added. “He’s a good fighter. And that’s why I’m here. I’m here to challenge myself against the best guys in the world. That’s the name of the game.”
A win against a former UFC light-heavyweight champion like Rua is definitely a huge accomplishment for a young MMA fighter like Gustafsson, but his performance wasn’t flawless. Rua came close to finishing a heel-hook during the first round of their UFC on Fox 5 encounter, and he landed a decent amount of hard shots on the Swede. Fortunately for Gustafsson, his chin held up against Shogun.
Gustafsson clearly still has a few holes in his game, and he’ll need to make a few adjustments if he wants to have a legitimate shot against Jon Jones. Rua was able to take Gustafsson down during their UFC on Fox 5 encounter, which means he’ll have his work cut out for him against a top-notch wrestler like Jones.
One thing’s for sure, Gustafsson isn’t intimidated by “Bones” in any way, and he’s confident he’ll be able to hold his own against the youngest champ in UFC history, if the two end up fighting for the light-heavyweight title next year.
“I feel great,” Gustafsson said about his performance at UFC on Fox 5. “Just winning against a guy like Shogun who is a legend is great. … I’m super happy, and when I get a shot at the title, I’m going to be more than ready.”
Given the fact Jones is currently set to face Sonnen in April 2013, Gustafsson will have to be wait around for quite some time if he wants to fight Bones next. On paper, a Jones vs. Gustafsson matchup favors the champ, and being inactive for an extended period won’t improve his odds. Alexander’s takedown defense and evasive skills need to be polished up before he fights for the title, and he’ll be better off staying active while waiting for his opportunity.
UFC president, Dana White, has indicated that Gustafsson will be first in line as a replacement for Dan Henderson, if “Hendo” gets injured while training for his UFC 157 bout against Lyoto Machida, so the Swede might not have to spend a lot of energy looking for his next fight.