If you asked most people whether Alexander Gustafsson remains an elite, light-heavyweight, the answer would likely (or should be) yes. But recently “The Mauler” made some interesting comments about his future, while discussing his expected bout with Anthony Smith.
Recently it was announced that both Gustafsson and Smith have verbally agreed to fight at a June 1st card in Stockholm, Sweden. The news comes not long after Smith lost via decision to the champ, Jon Jones earlier this month. Jones faced Gustafsson in December and stopped the perennial contender in round two.
More recently, Gustafsson appeared on “The MMA Hour”, and here’s some of what the Swedish star had to say about his upcoming fight, and his future (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“He’s a big hitter and he has a lot of heart and he has a lot of fights behind him,” Gustafsson said Monday on The MMA Hour. “He’s a guy with a good team behind him, and this is going to be a real challenge. And that’s why I’m doing this, to challenge myself. When I beat him, I’m going to just move in the rankings. If I don’t beat him, if he beats me, then maybe I don’t have it anymore. So I’ll just take it from there.”
“…I’m not even thinking about the title,” Gustafsson also said in the interview, while discussing the 205 title he’s failed to secure so far. “I’ve been thinking about the title now for a very long time, and it’s just been a stressful thing for me. It’s been there all the time around me — the title, the title, the title. It’s been a very long time between my fights. I just have to sit back for a while and take this fight now and take the next fight after that, and be more active, and try to be a better fighter and be smarter. I’m still 32 years old, I don’t think I’m old in the game yet. I do think I have a lot more to give and my body’s fresh, I feel good, I’m having fun training. So I’m just taking this fight now in Stockholm, and I beat Anthony Smith up, and then we’ll take it from there, see what that next challenge will be.”
Now, since Gustafsson is just 32 as he noted, and because his recent losses have come against the best-of-the-best in Jones, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson, no one should be saying “The Mauler” needs to walk away. But, when you consider that Gustafsson has talked about retiring in the past, you have to wonder if he might do just that, if Smith beats him June 1st.
A loss to Smith would be another setback for Gustafsson, no question. But, one could also argue it wouldn’t be catastrophic. After all, “Lionheart” is ranked #4 in the division, and his track record of finishing fights is well documented. Now, if Gustafsson wins, then talk of another title run will pop-up again, even if he’s not thinking about that right now.