Alexander Gustafsson spoke to Pundit Arena and explained his desire to compete on a more regular basis from here on out after a string of scattered appearances inside the octagon in recent times.
Three fights in the last three years and a defeat to the champion Jon Jones to cap it off isn’t the type of blazing run of form that would immediately inspire confidence in The Mauler’s standing in the light-heavyweight division.
With that being said, even now, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would argue against his position as the second-best active 205lb fighter on the planet.
Consistency is crucial when fresh contenders such as his UFC Stockholm opponent Anthony Smith begin to make waves in the weight-class’ upper-echelons and for that reason, many fans of Gus were delighted to see the UFC make this fight happen.
The Swede spoke to us here at Pundit Arena during fight-week and explained why everything from the venue and opponent to the timing and divisional ramifications makes this an ideal matchup for him at this point in his career.
“It’s the perfect matchup, the perfect event, perfect place, so I’m just enjoying my time here now.
“I’m coming off of a loss, it’s in my hometown, and it’s against a very, very tough fighter so I’m here to make a statement, I’m here to beat him and take another fight after that.
“I’m just going to keep piling them up and get those W’s, get back on track.”
The last time Gustafsson threw down in the Swedish capital, he was able to completely destroy the perennial contender Glover Teixeira on his way of the stunning fifth-round knockout sequence that has stuck in the MMA world’s collective memory even now, two years on.
The importance of fighting on home soil isn’t lost on the three-time title challenger, either.
“I really enjoy it. It’s a highlight every time I fight here and I think that it’s just home for me and fighting Anthony Smith, he’s an entertaining fighter, and it’s going to be a really good night on Saturday.
“I’m back where I started, you know. The only thing in front of me is the next fight. I’ve been working hard like I always do and I’m focussed on my task, not thinking what’s next. I just want to make sure that I win and be active. A couple of fights a year and get back to basics.
Alexander Gustafsson delved into his UFC 232 rematch with the champ in the first entry to this two-part feature and explained how an early low-blow completely derailed him gameplan from there on out.
That piece can be read in full here.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena