Former light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson has ended his retirement and will be making his Octagon return in the heavyweight division.
Gustafsson ended his retirement last year following his defeat to Anthony Smith at UFC Fight Night 153. Prior to that, he lost to current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
‘The Mauler’ is expected to compete on July 25 on the Fight Island card. The news was first reported by Brazilian outlet Combate. According to Combate, former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum is the favorite to fight Gustafsson with Haiti’s Ovince St-Preux as the back-up.
Fabricio Werdum made his Octagon return at UFC 249 after a two-year layoff against Alexey Oleynik. He lost the fight via split decision.
Alexander Gustafsson will fight on the Fight Island card that is supposed to be headlined by a middleweight fight between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.
In April earlier this year, Gustafsson was talking about making his Octagon return, and with his back to back setbacks inside the cage, he wanted to be sure about his return and only wanted to go through with it if he was completely ready.
COVID-19 forced Alexander Gustafsson to cancel his plans to train in the USA
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, Alexander Gustafsson was planning to travel to the United States for a training camp, but it had to be cancelled following the travel restrictions.
“I’m (going to be) honest with you: I’m 33 years old and I feel like I’ve got a couple more years in me,” Alexander Gustafsson said to MMAJunkie. “I just have to do it correctly this time, and I was actually looking to go to American before this coronavirus (expletive) happened – to go there and train just to get the feeling again and change the environment. I can’t give a yes or a no, but I’m training and it feels good.”
Why does Alexander Gustafsson want to train in the US?
Alexander Gustafsson has previously trained in his home country of Sweden. He trains at Allstars Training Center and said that there are extremely tough guys at his gym. But he admitted that training with the same partner for a long time has made his training partners predictable.
“It’s a mental thing,” Gustafsson said. “That’s the type of athlete I am. I love to be at home and I feel very comfortable being at home around my kids, and I go to the gym. Don’t get me wrong, we have some really tough guys in the gym. But you train with the same guys too long and you start knowing what the guys are going to do. That’s why we’re looking – not even for a fight camp – just go out there to America and train.
“I want to get tested again and get that feeling of being in deep waters. It motivates me a lot, too. It’s definitely a mental thing for me. I’m always prepared – my conditioning is always there and my strength, but it’s a mental thing.”
How do you guys think Alexander Gustafsson will perform in the heavyweight division?