In hindsight, UFC 232 just wasn’t the night that Alexander Gustafsson had hoped it would be.
Five years removed from their unforgettable first fight, Gustafsson finally had an opportunity to settle the score with Jon Jones. Since that initial verdict was read, Gustafsson has disputed the decision and frankly, many fans and analysts took his side. However at UFC 232, ‘The Mauler’ was unable to replicate that first performance. Instead he struggled throughout, eventually being finished in the 3rd round.
In a recent interview on The MMA Hour, Gustafsson reflected on the fight, “it was a really bad performance that I did, and I just, I wasn’t myself really,” Gustafsson admitted. “I just went in there and I tried to stick to the game-plan and everything, but no, he just found a way very early to neutralize my game and he put me away strong.
“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.”
While he’s aware that it was only a single factor of his struggles, Gustafsson does point to an early moment that he feels hindered him. “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 (low) 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.”
Regardless of what happened opposite Jones, Gustafsson will need to rebound this weekend, taking on Anthony Smith at UFC Fight Night Stockholm.