When all this talk about a possible fight between Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson began, it was more about booking an awesome scrap, rather than any beef. Well, as so often is the case in MMA, it looks like that’s all changed.
Johnson got the ball rolling last month, but did so in a very polite manner, by calling on Gustafsson to give the fans “what they wanna see.” The light-heavyweight even began the call out by noting he respects “The Mauler” as a fighter.
Gustafsson, however, was far from sold on the match-up. The Swedish fighter was originally set to rematch Jon Jones at UFC 178, until he injured his knee and Daniel Cormier was brought in. Gustafssson thought he should be tapped to face Jones in January, after the champ also went down with a knee injury.
That didn’t happen, of course, and when Johnson came calling, Gustafsson relayed that “Rumble” didn’t deserve a bout with the top ranked light-heavyweight. He also noted the two aren’t “in the playground anymore” (cue dramatic music).
Although Gustafsson has changed his tune, and says he’s down to fight Johnson, it looks like the latter is still a wee bit annoyed about how things unfolded. In a recent episode of “The MMA Hour”, Johnson relayed that he “just wanted a yes or a no”, and that when Gustafssson didn’t respond at first it “pissed me off.”
And how about Gustafsson’s playground comments? And the argument Johnson’s wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Phil Davis haven’t earned him a bout with the #1 contender (quote through MMA Fighting.com)?
“To me, that’s what made it personal,” Johnson said. “That’s what made it personal, him saying that. He doesn’t have to be impressed with me, but saying that I need a few more fights to get to him or something like that, in my opinion, dude, nobody knew who you were until you fought Jon. You were just an average Joe, just like me, until you fought Jon. You gave Jon a great fight, now the whole world knows who you are. You’re like an overnight celebrity.”
“Gus gave Jon (Jones) a run for his money, the toughest fight Jon has ever had. Everybody either has a fight lined up or they’re injured, and the only people in the top-five who don’t have a fight are me and Gus, so why not just do it for the fans and just see what we can do? Gus says he’s one of the best in the world, and I feel like I’m one of the best in the world, so why not just do it and see what happens?”
While it’s hard to fault Gustafsson for wanting to keep his title shot in place, from a fans perspective, the news that he’s willing to fight Johnson is glorious.
The latter also noted in the interview that he’s hoping to fight before the year is out, but that he’s willing to face Gustasfsson in early 2015 as the light-heavyweight’s requested.
Whenever it goes down, it should be a doozy.