Alexander Gustafsson makes his return to the octagon this weekend. Retirements in MMA are relatively less permanent. Often legends have come out of retirement to varying degrees of success. George St. Pierre came out of retirement and defeated Michael Bisping. He became the middleweight champion of the world and then promptly retired again. But during that night, the commentators basically conceded that GSP may have looked even better. On the other hand, Ben Askren came out of retirement for an opportunity to compete in the UFC. His first performance was a less than impressive win against Robbie Lawler, a record knockout against Jorge Masvidal and a submission loss to Demian Maia. Askren ultimately retired due to hip issues.
The return of Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson is one of the most elite light heavyweights that the UFC has produced. Perhaps the biggest reason why he has not tasted UFC gold is because he competed in the same division as Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. Despite that Gustafsson has managed one of the most impressive performances of his career against Jones. It was the first time that Jones truly looked in trouble as the fight progressed. Gustafsson managed to defend against all of Jons takedowns, and managed to get the better of him through big parts of the fight. Although Jones eventually got the decision win, many fans till date believe that fight should have gone to Gustafsson.
One memorable occasion in which Gustafsson showed his talent was against Glover Teixeira. It was a boxing display the likes of which we have rarely seen.
His last fight prior to his retirement was against the streaking Anthony Smith. Smith who at the time was on a tear since his move up from middleweight to light heavy weight managed to expose Gustafsson’s back before submitting him via rear naked choke.
Now Gustafsson makes his return to the octagon at heavyweight. Will he put on a great comeback like GSP? Or will his tale be a cautionary one like Askren’s? Whichever way it goes, we’ll find out starting this weekend.