Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson hopes the third time is the charm when he battles longtime rival Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 232 on December 29.
“The Mauler” has already been in epic title bouts with Jones and Daniel Cormier, and he hopes that he will leave Las Vegas with a championship belt that he has been chasing ever since his UFC debut in 2009. So how did he get here? Read on to find out.
UFC 105 – November 14, 2009 (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)
After compiling an 8-0 record on the local circuit, Gustafsson got the call to the Octagon to face Jared Hamman in 2009. Now Gustafsson was seen as a legitimate prospect at the time, but the level of competition he faced wasn’t exactly UFC-level, so all eyes were on “The Mauler” as he took on Hamman, who brought an 11-1 record into his own promotional debut. This one wasn’t close, though, as Gustafsson needed just 41 seconds to get into the UFC win column.
UFC on FOX – December 8, 2012 (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)
Five months later, Gustafsson got a rude awakening when he was submitted by Phil Davis, but the still evolving prospect was not deterred from his path, and over the course of the next five fights he went 5-0 and morphed into a contender, setting up a pivotal matchup with former world champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. It was the biggest fight of Gustafsson’s career to that point, and he delivered, winning a shutout decision over the Brazilian star.
UFC 165 – September 21, 2013 (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)
That six-fight winning streak earned Gustafsson a shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, and while the Swede clearly deserved that fight, he was a significant underdog to a fighter who had just run through Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen in succession. But when the Octagon door closed, Gustafsson gave Jones hell, and though Jones emerged victorious via decision, the two had produced one of the greatest fights in UFC history, establishing Gustafsson’s reputation as one of the best in the game in the process.
UFC Fight Night – March 8, 2014 (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)
Six months after his epic battle with Jones, Gustafsson returned against someone who would eventually become his teammate, British knockout artist Jimi Manuwa. The stage was set for a post-title fight letdown, but Gustafsson wasn’t having it, as he scored a second-round TKO of the “Poster Boy” that earned him a double bonus. “The Mauler” wasn’t going anywhere.
UFC 192 – October 3, 2015 (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)
A huge headlining gig in Sweden against Anthony Johnson in January 2015 went south in a hurry, with “Rumble” halting Gustafsson in a little over two minutes, but later that year, Gus found himself in a title fight with Daniel Cormier, and again, it was a pitched battle for five rounds with the belt on the line. Gustafsson wound up on the wrong side of a split decision, leaving him in a position where he had to figure out that little extra that would push him over the top in the big fight.
UFC Fight Night – September 3, 2016 (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)
Nearly a year after the loss to Cormier, Gustafsson took on another risky challenge in the form of Polish contender Jan Blachowicz, and despite the time off, “The Mauler” was still in top form as he delivered a dominant performance that resulted in a shutout decision victory.
UFC Fight Night – May 28, 2017 (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)
Gustafsson’s most recent win may be his most impressive, as he scored a Fight of the Night knockout of Glover Teixeira. Showing even more variety with his striking attack, Gustafsson was sharp and deadly throughout the bout before he finished off the ultra-tough Teixeira in the fifth and final round. It’s the perfect prelude to December 29 and his rematch with Jonny Bones.