När vår egen Alexander Gustafsson var med på The MMA Hour tidigare pratade han om sitt kommande möte med Anthony Smith, men också om sin senaste förlust mot ärkerivalen Jon Jones. Alex är nu 0-2 mot Jones och 0-3 i titelmatcher, så en ny titelchans ser ut att vara långt borta – I alla fall mot Jones.
”The Mauler” surar emellertid inte över det utan blickar istället framåt mot nya utmaningar. Mötet mot Smith blir lite som att börja om på ruta ett och samla på sig nya vinster för att klättra på stegen.
“I just hate to lose, but it’s a sport and Jon is the best guy out there. I don’t know. I think I could’ve done much better, but it is what it is, and I just take it as a man. It’s a sport, and even if I had my third title shot and I lost the third one, I’m still not feeling bad about it or anything like that. Life moves on, I have a family at home, so I’m just [going to] keep doing what I’m doing and take the next fight and the next fight after that, and start from scratch a little bit.”
Alex reflekterade också över sin senaste förlust mot Jones och hur brutalt allt slutade inne i oktagonen på UFC 232.
“I just didn’t perform like I used to,”
“I didn’t have the footwork going. And I have no excuses, it’s not that. It’s just like, after when he got me with that knee, I couldn’t really find the rhythm again. I just, I couldn’t move like I did before. I just had a lot of pain after that, and I’ve never had that type of pain in my career before in a fight. Of course, you have pain, you get shots from everywhere and you get back, you just keep pushing. But he just stopped me right there, and I tried to move, work it with my footwork, try to kick him or attack, be explosive. But none of that worked. I just couldn’t with my groin.”
“So that’s basically it, and he took me down. Nobody can hold me down. Nobody can hold me down. Not DC, not Jon. Nobody. When he took me down there and when he finished me, I couldn’t move because of my groin. He just passed, he just went to half guard and just went up and did the crucifix stuff on me — and nobody does that to me. I wasn’t 100 percent. I just felt that I had so much pain in my groin that I couldn’t really get back into my rhythm again. And with that said, I don’t use this as an excuse or anything like that. He did what he had to do to beat me, and Jon is the best guy out there, so I don’t feel like I’m thinking about that loss nowadays. It is what it is and I just move forward now.”
Gustafsson säger att förlusten också fått honom att byta fokus. Han kan nu släppa den totala fokusen på bältet i lätt tungvikt och istället fokusera på nuet. Något som minskat stressen och pressen för den unge svensken. Han hoppas nu också att efter matchen mot Smith kunna var mer aktiv än att bara gå match en gång per år som han gjort tidigare.
“I’ve been thinking about the title now for a very long time, and it’s just been a stressful thing for me. It’s been there all the time around me — the title, the title, the title. It’s been a very long time between my fights. I just have to sit back for a while and take this fight now and take the next fight after that, and be more active, and try to be a better fighter and be smarter.
“I actually wanted to fight earlier than this, but this was just the next one for me,”
“So, I’m in training, I’ve been training for a while now and I had some time off after the Jones fight and I just healed up, and now I’m ready to go. And it’s in my hometown too, so it can’t be better than this. All the other shows [at the Ericsson Globe] have been a success.
“[Smith] just had a fight, he’s in shape, and he showed some heart in his last fight with Jon, so I think it’s a good matchup for the fans and they will see a really good fight. He has some good skills on his feet and good grappling too, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Alexander Gustafsson möter Anthony Smith den 1 juni i Globen på UFC: Stockholm.