Alexander Gustafsson wasn’t happy with the news that Daniel Cormier is moving up to fight Stipe Miocic in July, and now the light-heavyweight contender’s calling for an interim title shot. Will the UFC grant his wish?
Gustafsson has been in the title shot mix at 205 for years now, and as a result of his KO win over Glover Teixeira last May, many believed he would fight for the belt next. But, ultimately, Volkan Oezdemir ended up challenging Cormier at UFC 220 in January, and was stopped by the champ.
After that, the expectation was that Gustafsson would finally rematch “DC”, especially since Jon Jones is sidelined on account of his issues with USADA. The UFC, however, booked a superfight between Cormier and Miocic for July 7th, and “The Mauler” wasn’t happy about it.
It isn’t clear yet, what’s next for Gustafsson, but recently he told ESPN this:
“Me fighting D.C. [Cormier] for the real title, that opportunity went out the window,” Gustafsson said. “I feel I earned my spot off my last performance — but here we are. With D.C. moving up, the next step for me should be for an interim title. “I brought it up to the UFC. Let’s see what happens. All I know is that in my situation, whoever they put in front of me next, it must be for the interim title.”
“The division is a little crazy right now, it’s no secret, but I earned my spot,” Gustafsson also said in the report. “It doesn’t matter who they put in front of me, but I want it to be for the interim belt.”
There’s no doubt that the UFC’s been putting up interim belts far more often than they ever used to. Further, when you look at how long Gustafsson’s been at the top of the 205 division, and that he had tightly contested bouts with Cormier and Jones, it’s not surprising really he’s making this demand. But, will the UFC go this route?
As it stands right now, it’s hard to imagine. Cormier just fought in January, and by all accounts, he does not intend to defend the heavyweight title, if he does defeat Miocic. So, that would open the door to Cormier defending the 205 crown by the end of the year, provided he’s healthy.
Further, who would Gustafsson fight for the interim belt? All of the top five ranked contenders are coming off losses, except for Ilir Latifi, Gustafsson’s buddy and teammate.
Now, if Cormier were to get injured say, and Jones is cleared to return sooner than expected, then, Gustafsson could get his wish.