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Gustafsson: 'I Know He Bleeds'


The best way to end the year is with a bang, and that’s exactly what the UFC will get when Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones step into the octagon to square off for the second time at UFC 232. The light heavyweights put on one of the best title bouts of all-time at UFC 165, and part two is expected to bring more of the same thrills. John Gooden caught up with Gustafsson, where “The Mauler” discussed coming back from injury as well as his second shot at Jones.

The last time fight fans saw Gustafsson, he knocked out Glover Teixeira in his hometown at Fight Night Stockholm all the way back in May 2017. The bout earned Fight of the Night honors, but that was arguably Gustafsson’s second-biggest victory that night. Moments after his win, he proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes).

“I wouldn’t probably have proposed if I had lost the fight,” he told Gooden.


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Thank you Sweden, thank you @gloverteixeira , thank you @ufc fans around the world. I am a happy happy man right now. Now some quality family time with my princesses.

A post shared by Alex The Mauler Gustafsson (@alexthemauler) on May 29, 2017 at 12:29am PDT

Since then, Gustafsson spent his time getting healthy. In November 2017, he had an operation to deal with a shoulder issue that included a metal plate and three screws. Now, he says he is “good to go.”

He was slated to return to the cage in July to fight Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 227, but it fell through due to injuries to both fighters. Now, however, Gustafsson takes on Jones for the light heavyweight title after Daniel Cormier was stripped of the belt.


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A post shared by Alex The Mauler Gustafsson (@alexthemauler) on Nov 27, 2017 at 3:05am PST

The rematch is one MMA fans have anticipated since their initial fight, the 2013 Fight of the Year that Jones won by unanimous decision. Although the loss ended Gustafsson’s six-fight winning streak and began a stretch of three losses in four fights, he looks back on the night fondly.

 “Even if I lost that fight, I gained so much from it,” he said. “After the fight, I knew I had the right skills and I’m on his level.”


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On 12/29 the LHW UFC belt is coming home with me!!! #momentsmgmt #andnew #ufc #champion #allstarstrainingcenter

A post shared by Alex The Mauler Gustafsson (@alexthemauler) on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:17pm PDT

Both fighters will step into the cage in December after long layoffs - Jones is returning for the first time since knocking out Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 (that fight was later deemed a No Contest), but Jones still has not lost a fight in nine years (a disqualification due to illegal elbows). 

Despite that reality, Gustafsson is unfazed. Rather, he feels healthy, in top form and confident he’ll more than hang with Jones at UFC 232.

“I know that he’s not unbeatable,” Gustafsson said. “I know he bleeds. I know I can beat him.”

Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb.