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The Return of Alexander Gustafsson

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RETIREMENT

June 1st, 2019, was when we last saw Alexander Gustafsson in the UFC octagon. Many were surprised after his submission loss to Antony Smith, he lowered his gloves to the floor of the cage and announced his retirement, many felt that the decision may have been premature, it is widely recognized that Gustafsson is quite possibly the greatest fighter to have never won the big one and walked away with the championship, with a record of 18 wins and 6 losses, Gustafsson has fought all the big names of the division, with 3 of his losses coming at the hands of fighters talked about in the running for Greatest of all time (GOAT), twice to Jon Jones and once to ‘DC’ Daniel Cormier.

Gustafsson laying down his gloves after Smith loss

THE MAULER

Gustafsson after close decision loss to Jon Jones

Gustafsson started training MMA in 2006. Before that he trained in boxing which he started when he was around 10 years old. He won the national championship (youth-junior level) in 2003, at the age of 16. In 2008-2009 he made a return to boxing, winning some amateur tournaments in Sweden. He also defeated the Swedish heavyweight boxing champion in an amateur fight. He was set to compete in the national championship event the following year, 2010, for which he was a big favorite to win. However, his newly awakened boxing career ended when he signed with the UFC in September 2009.

In September 2013 Gustafsson challenged champion Jon Jones unlike any previous contender. He took the champion down for the first time in his career. He picked him apart on the feet and cutting Jones badly above the right eye early in the fight. Jones later rallied, and dominated the final rounds and in the end out landed Gustafsson in strikes. Jones won the fight via unanimous decision. After the fight on his way to the hospital, Jones stated Gustafsson was the toughest fight of his career

Impressively finishing of Manuwa

March 8th, 2014 Gustafsson took on undefeated British fighter Jimi Manuwa. Gustafsson won the fight in the 2nd round by TKO. After dropping Manuwa with a knee followed by a flurry of punches in the clinch, handing Manuwa the first loss of his career.

Gustafsson with a video game finish over Glover

A rescheduled fight with Glover Teixeira took place on 28 May 2017, in the main event at UFC Fight Night 109. After dominating the fight for four rounds, Gustafsson won the fight via knockout early in the fifth round. With a combination of upper cuts that looked like something out of your favourite video game. Their performance earned both fighters the Fight of the Night awards.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

It was announced on Thursday, June 19th, 2020, that Alexander Gustafsson would be making his comeback. However, not to challenge for the Light Heavyweight title. Gustafsson is staking his claim for the Heavyweight Championship. He makes his debut on July 25th, 2020 on UFC Fight Island card headlined by Whittaker vs Till. Gustafsson takes on seasoned veteran Fabricio Werdum. The dangerous Brazilian has taken on some of the biggest names of MMA. A win over Werdum would put Gustafsson in a position to challenge a top 10 Heavyweight as he looks to finally get that gold that has eluded him for so long. Will this Rocky Balboa-esque comeback have the movie ending that Gustafsson is hoping for? I for one will be eagerly watching and wishing the great Swede the best in his pursuit of glory.

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James Rees is host of ReesTalks Podcast and a Football, F1 and MMA writer, who strives to bring you the best content aswel as bringing you interviews with some of the sports top stars.