After what seemed like a year of being stuck in first gear, the UFC light heavyweight division is heating up nicely with a number of top contenders chomping away at the heels of #DanielCormier.
Alexander Gustafsson, the man currently ranked as the No. 1 UFC light heavyweight, is among the men in the thick of all the title talk right now, and on May 27, he will strive to stake his own claim for No. 1 contendership when he faces the No. 2-ranked #GloverTeixeira.
Speaking exclusively to Champions.co this week, Gustafsson elaborated on the division, starting with Cormier and UFC 210's infamous #TowelGate weigh-in debacle.
“I’ve no idea what he did,” Gustafsson said with a chuckle. “I’ve no idea. I don’t know what to say, man. All I can say is that DC is a professional and he’s a world champion for a reason. He’s a good guy and he’s been beating the best guys in the division. No matter what, he still clearly came out on top in that fight and finished the fight. I’ve no opinions about what he did or didn’t do with a towel.”
The last challenger to face Cormier, #AnthonyJohnson, is one of four men to have ever defeated Gustafsson. Unfortunately for the Swede, the defeat occurred in front of a hometown crowd in Stockholm, and to this day, Gustafsson still remains disappointed with how it all went down.
“It was my last fight in Sweden and I didn’t get to show everyone my full potential in that fight—not at all,” Gustafsson said. “Rumble just caught me good and that was it really. I obviously wanted revenge against Anthony and I think it’s sad that he decided to retire.”
With Johnson now retired, Gustafsson said he respected his decision to leave the sport, but that he thought Johnson had something that no one else in the 205-pound division had.
“I respect his decision,” Gustafsson said. “If he thinks that’s the right thing to do then I say all the best to him. I respect his decision a lot. He’s a great fighter and I think he has something that no one else has in our division. He’s got that power and I believe he was a real threat to all of us. That’s why I think it’s sad that he’s retiring. But, you know, I’ll respect his decision. If he thinks it is for the best then he must do it.”
One man perhaps closing in on a title shot right now is Gustafsson's teammate, #JimiManuwa. The two fought before back in 2014 at UFC Fight Night 37, but ever since, they have trained together and have become close friends. With Manuwa and Gustafsson closing in on the top of the division, the time could come when they are asked to fight again. From the Swede’s perspective, at least, that isn’t going to happen.
“That’s a very, very hard question to answer,” Gustafsson said. “I won’t fight Jimi and that’s something that would remain the same even if he was the world champion. I think he would say the same if the roles were reversed. It’s absolutely a tough question, though, because it’s a big dream for both of us. Being the world champion is what we both want. We will see how it works out.”