Folks that believe Alexander Gustafsson ducked out of a potential bout with Anthony Smith at UFC 227, may want to reconsider that position, following comments from Dana White.
Gustafsson was originally booked to face Volkan Oezdemir earlier this month, but then “No Time” had to withdraw, as a result of an injury. At first, the UFC looked for a replacement opponent, and after Anthony Smith put away “Shogun” Rua at UFC FN 134, “Lionheart” called out Gustafsson.
Well, soon after, news surfaced that Gustafsson’s team had announced the light-heavyweight couldn’t compete at UFC 227, due to a “minor injury”. That announcement prompted some, like Daniel Cormier, to opine that Gustafsson was just avoiding a bout with the surging Smith.
“It wasn’t a minor injury; he actually had a serious injury to his hamstring,” White said. “He doesn’t have to do surgery. He’s doing physical therapy, and we’re hoping he can come back before the end of the year. He was hurt, a legitimate injury, and he’s working on it. We’re trying to get him in before the end of the year.”
Now, sure, the doubters may not change their mind on this. As really, Gustafsson didn’t have much to gain by facing Smith, who only recently cracked the top 10 at 205 and is now #9. But, there’s certainly more than one sign here to indicate that the Swedish star is hurt.
Injuries have really set Gustafsson back in recent years. In 2016, the contender only fought once – he earned a decision win over Jan Blachowicz, and last year Gustafsson only competed once again – he took out Glover Teixeira in May.
So, hopefully Gustafsson doesn’t go throughout 2018 without competing. By all indications, however, at the most he’s going to have a one fight campaign again. Maybe the UFC will look at him fighting the winner of the October 27th bout between Smith and Oezdemir? Provided the winner emerges unscathed.