Two-time UFC light heavyweight challenger Alexander Gustafsson will wait his turn for another shot at the belt.
“Daniel (Cormier) knows I’m here to stay, that I’m waiting for my rematch against him,” Gustafsson told Viaplay Fighting in a post on his official Facebook page. “I’m not in a hurry. I’ve had longer stretches between fights than this. I’ll be fine.”
Gustafsson (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) said he’ll be ready to face the winner of a likely fight between Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), which could take place in early 2018 with the champ taking time to recuperate from a busy 2017.
Although Gustafsson might not be in a rush, his desire to win UFC gold hasn’t waned.
“I want the belt,” he said. “I want a title fight. We’ll see if Volkan vs. Cormier gets confirmed. Then I’ll fight the winner and … I’m pretty sure I’ll fight ‘DC.’”
“The Mauler” pushed Cormier to the limit when they met two years ago at UFC 192, which marked Cormier’s first title defense after seizing the belt left vacant by Jon Jones’ out-of-cage troubles.
With Cormier the champ once again following Jones’ failed drug test, Gustafsson’s path to the title is clear. The Swedish star has been on a tear since his loss to Cormier, defeating Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira.
Gustafsson compared Oezdemir to Anthony Johnson, who lost a pair of bouts to Cormier.
“Volkan does have a puncher’s chance,” Gustafsson said. “He’s not someone you want to underestimate. He’s a power puncher. But ‘DC’ is the better fighter.
“(Cormier) can take a punch. He has the cardio. He is a better mixed martial artist than Volkan. So I see ‘DC’ winning the fight.”
Of course, as Gustafsson well knows, heavy-handed fighters can catch you. Johnson did just that when they met two years ago, bringing “Rumble” another title shot that ended in a bizarre fight and his retirement from MMA.
The difference between Gustafsson and Cormier, however, is their wrestling pedigrees. Cormier is a world-class grappler with the ability to take anyone down.
“He’s going to put him on his ass,” Gustafsson said of the champ. “He’ll take him down and dominate on the ground. Volkan is sort of like Anthony Johnson – a power puncher. We haven’t seen much of his ground game. And I think ‘DC’ will take him down.”
But if Oezdemir pulls off the upset, Gustafsson will happily take the fight. Then he would not only get the chance to win the title, but get some payback for his teammate Jimi Manuwa, who Oezdemir knocked out in his most recent fight.
“Styles make fights,” Gustafsson said of the potential matchup. “I want to beat ‘DC.’ I want to avenge my loss. Because of that, I want ‘DC’ to win. But if Volkan were to win, that’s fine with me. Then I’ll avenge Jimi.”
Whatever ends up happening, Gustafsson figures he’s got time to let it play out.
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