Alexander Gustafsson had a chance to finally win a UFC belt at UFC 232 when he rematched Jon Jones. Unfortunately, for the second time against Jones and the third time overall for the belt, Gustafsson fell short.
Now, Gustafsson has a chance to get back into the win column when he takes on Anthony Smith in the headliner of UFC Stockholm. Gustafsson is picturing this as a must-win, and if he doesn’t, he isn’t sure if he should continue.
“He’s a big hitter and he has a lot of heart and he has a lot of fights behind him,” Gustafsson said 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.”
Ultimately, Gustafsson will need to string together a couple wins a row if he wants another shot at the title. However, given he has lost twice already Jones it may be a long road back to a title shot. But, that isn’t phasing Gustafsson as for him, he is no longer worried about the belt.
“I’m not even thinking about the title,” Gustafsson said. “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.
“One-hundred percent, that’s exactly how I feel right now,” he added. “I’m done thinking about, ‘I have to go up to be a title contender, I have to stress.’ It’s not like that anymore. I’m just taking one fight at a time and trying to fight the best guys, and have fun doing it.”
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime