After suffering another disappointing setback, Alexander Gustafsson announced his retirement last night at UFC Fight Night Stockholm.
Fighting at home, Gustafsson took on Anthony Smith, entering the affair as a clear betting favorite. However, he never looked truly in control, struggling early and then in the 4th round, being submitted by a Rear-Naked Choke. The result was somewhat surprising but Gustafsson's reaction understandably steals the headlines, shocking onlookers and bidding farewell to his time in the cage. "The show is over," he told fans, leaving his gloves on the octagon mat.
Talking to reporters at the post-fight press conference, Gustafsson further explained his thought process. “I’m feeling that it’s pretty much a done deal,” he admitted. “If you don’t feel you have it in you anymore then it is what it is. I had three title fights and, like I said, it’s been a great journey. This is it.”
Gustafsson's decision is understandable in the grand scheme of things, with his path to the title looking increasingly slimmer. “I feel like I don’t do this for money or because of anything else,” Gustafsson said. “I do this because I want to be the best and beat the best and if I can’t do that then it is what it is. I lost to Jon and that was the third title fight and I felt like because I got a little bit of an injury in that fight and I didn’t get to show my capacity.
"So I had some hope in me still and I felt this Anthony Smith fight would be a great comeback and start climbing again. But now I lose to Anthony too. It feels like I don’t have it in me anymore. It’s like a confirmation to myself because I lost my three title fights.”
Overall, Gustafsson is content with his decision, especially considering where it took place. “I felt it’s an honorable way to tell the crowd and the audience here tonight that this a decision I made. It’s still so fresh and everything. But I feel deep inside that I’ve been digging hard and training hard. I was so relaxed and calm and it was still not enough. I don’t know what to do to start winning again. Maybe if I have that feeling in me then there’s no point for me to continue.”
Though never a champion, Gustafsson exits the sport with an admirable resume. One half of arguably the sport's greatest fight, Gustafsson made magic opposite Jon Jones and on a different night, very well could've left the octagon with that Light Heavyweight around his waist. Outside of that, Gustafsson has some had some great moments in victory too, one of the sport's elite 205 pound fighters in recent memory.
With his career seemingly over, Gustafsson took a moment to reflect. “I’ve been traveling the world, I’ve seen so much good places and I have so many new friends in my life. I am living a life today that I am very pleased with and happy with because of the UFC and the sport. I had two really good wins here in the Globe, which I will have with the rest of my life. It’s been a great journey.”
Our post-show podcast for UFC Fight Night Stockholm can be found here.