Alexander Gustafsson

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Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson 2014.jpg
Alexander Gustafsson at the Svenska idrottsgalan in Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, 2014.
Born (1987-01-15) 15 January 1987 (age 27)
Arboga, Sweden
Other names The Mauler
Nationality Swedish
Height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)[1]
Weight 204 lb (93 kg; 14 st 8 lb)[1]
Division Light heavyweight (205 lb)
Reach 79 in (201 cm)[2]
Style Boxing, Shootfighting
Fighting out of Stockholm, Sweden
Team Allstars Training Center
Alliance MMA
Rank Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Years active 2007–present
Mixed martial arts record
Total 18
Wins 16
By knockout 10
By submission 3
By decision 3
Losses 2
By submission 1
By decision 1
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
last updated on: 8 March 2014

Alexander L. Gustafsson[3] (born 15 January 1987) is a Swedish mixed martial artist. He is currently signed with the UFC fighting in their light heavyweight division.[4] As of January 17, 2014, he is the #1 contender in official UFC light heavyweight rankings[5][6] and ranked the #2 light heavyweight in the world by Sherdog[7] and ESPN.[8] As of March 10, he is ranked the #13 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC.[9]

Mixed martial arts career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Gustafsson started training MMA in 2006, and before that he trained in boxing which he started when he was around 10 years old.[10] In 2009 he made a quick return to boxing, winning some amateur tournaments in Sweden and defeating the Swedish heavyweight boxing champion in an amateur fight, to become the Swedish amateur boxing champion.[11][12]
He also competed in the martial arts form of shootfighting, before starting his professional MMA career, with a Shoot record of 5-1, with 4 wins by KO/TKO and 1 by decision, his only loss came by decision against Mats Nilsson in the Kaisho Battle 2007 event. He also competed in a smaller amount of submission wrestling and submission grappling matches, in which he was also undefeated.[13]
Before signing with the UFC, Gustafsson fought mostly in smaller promotions in Sweden and other parts of Europe. By 2009, he had racked up a perfect pro-record of 8–0, with 6 wins coming by the way of KO/TKO.[14][15]
The most notable victories in his first 8 fights came against German prospect Florian Muller, who he defeated by TKO in the second round on 13 March 2008,[16] and later that year, after another TKO victory, when he replaced his former victim Florian Muller on less than 24 hours notice against Krzysztof Kulak, who at the time was a top prospect in Poland, on 13 September 2008 at KSW-Extra. He was sleeping in the locker room before he went out and dominated the fight, knocking Kulak down several times, earning the unanimous decision victory.[17]

Ultimate Fighting Championship[edit]

He made his UFC debut against Jared Hamman on 14 November 2009 at UFC 105.[18][19] Gustafsson dropped Hamman with a straight right punch and won the fight via KO at 0:41 in the first round.[20][21]

His next fight was against Phil Davis on 10 April 2010 at UFC 112.[22][23] Gustafsson lost the fight via submission due to an anaconda choke. Prior to this, Gustafsson showed good wrestling and takedown defense which Joe Rogan praised him for. After getting overconfident and going for a takedown himself, Gustafsson was sprawled by Davis and was forced to tap out at 4:55 of the first round.[24]

Gustafsson faced MMA and kickboxing veteran Cyrille Diabaté at UFC 120.[25] In advance of this bout, Gustafsson traveled to San Diego, California, to train with Alliance MMA for a month. At the training camp, Gustafsson trained with notable UFC fighters like his former opponent Phil Davis, Dominick Cruz, Brandon Vera, Joey Beltran and Travis Browne. He also took grappling tips from Davis and worked to improve his strength and speed.[26] After dominating the first round in stand up as well as on the ground, dropping Diabate twice, Gustafsson defeated Diabate via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round.[27][28] In post-fight interviews Gustafsson said that the main reason for his success against Diabate was the time that he spend at Alliance MMA in the training camp.[29]

Gustafsson won his second straight UFC fight on 27 February 2011, at UFC 127[30] where he defeated James Te-Huna in the first round by submission due to a rear-naked choke.[31]

Gustafsson was expected to face Vladimir Matyushenko on 6 August 2011 at UFC 133.[32] But Matyushenko pulled out of the fight due to injury and was replaced by Matt Hamill.[33] In the 2nd round, Gustafsson dropped Hamill with a straight punch followed by two uppercuts, finishing Hamill by TKO, with punches and elbows from the mount.[34][35] Hamill announced his retirement shortly after the fight.[36]

Gustafsson eventually faced Matyushenko on 30 December 2011 at UFC 141.[37] He defeated Matyushenko by TKO in the first round after dropping him with a jab and finishing with punches on the ground.[38][39] After the win UFC President Dana White said that a first round finish of Matyushenko, who he referred to as a gatekeeper at the time, made it clear that Gustafsson was a force to be reckon with and that he would get a step up in competition for his next fight.[40]

Gustafsson was expected to face Antônio Rogério Nogueira on 14 April 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV 2 in Stockholm, Sweden,[41] but Nogueira pulled out of the fight due to an injury and was replaced by Thiago Silva.[42] Gustafsson was able to effectively use his reach and jab to largely outstrike Silva, scoring points by knocking him down early in the first round as well as scoring a takedown in the second. His dominant performance earned him the unanimous decision victory.[43] Just like after his previous win, it was again clear that Gustafsson was in need of another step up in competition, and UFC President Dana White said that his next fight would be against someone in the top of the rankings.[44]

Gustafsson faced Maurício Rua on 8 December 2012 at UFC on Fox 5.[45] He was able to use his reach and powerful striking, as well as his wrestling, to defeat Rua via unanimous decision.[46] It was said that a victory over 'Shogun' Rua would likely ensure Gustafsson of a shot at the title in his next fight,[47] but since he didn't want to sit out of competition for a long time to wait for his chance, Gustafsson said he was fine with having another fights before that could happen.[48][49]

Gustafsson was expected to face Gegard Mousasi on 6 April 2013 at UFC on Fuel TV 9[50] and it was said that a victory would ensure him of a shot at the title.[51] However, on 30 March it was revealed that Gustafsson had suffered a cut during a sparring session.[52] On April 2 it was announced by Swedish MMA Federation that he was not cleared to compete.[53] Gustafsson was replaced by UFC newcomer Ilir Latifi, one of his main training partners.[54]

Title shot[edit]

Gustafsson earned a title shot and faced UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones on 21 September 2013 in the main event at UFC 165.[55] Despite being looked at as a big underdog coming in to this fight,[56] Gustafsson challenged Jones unlike any contender previously, taking the champion down for the first time in his career, picking him apart on the feet and cutting Jones badly above the right eye early in the fight.Gustafsson eventually lost to a very close unanimous and controversial decision.[57][58] After the fight, before being sent to hospital,[59] Jones said Gustafsson had given him the hardest fight of his career. Despite the loss, Gustafsson was awarded with his first Fight of the Night bonus award for his performance.[60][61] The outcome of the fight was critically acclaimed by mixed martial arts media outlets and fighters,[62][63] with many considering it the greatest light heavyweight title-fight of all time.[64][65] The fight was later named 2013 Fight of the Year by World MMA Awards along with various other major MMA media outlets, Gustafsson also won the prize for 2013 International Fighter of the Year.[66][67][68]

It was indicated by Dana White that he was interested in an immediate Jones vs. Gustafsson rematch, without confirming anything.[69] Gustafsson ended up not getting the rematch after it was confirmed that Jones would be defending his belt next against Glover Teixeira.[70] It was said that the next opponent for Gustafsson was not confirmed yet, but that the fight would take place in Sweden or England in early 2014.[71] It was also said that Gustafsson, if victorious in his next fight, would get another shot at the title.[72] When asked about all this, Gustafsson said that his main goal was to get another shot at the title and that he's happy to fight anybody to get there, he also said that as long as Jon Jones still is the champion, he will be the main target.[73]

Post title fight[edit]

At a post-fight press conference in Manchester, Dana White said that Gustafsson would be facing Antônio Rogério Nogueira on 8 March 2014 at UFC Fight Night 37.[74] He also stated that if both he and Jones won their next bouts, then the rematch would be set for the title.[75] However, just 5 days after the fight was announced news came that Nogueira had to withdraw from the bout due to an injury.[76][77] Later, reports came that said that Nogueira had never agreed to take the fight against Gustafsson at all.[78] Instead, he faced undefeated striker Jimi Manuwa at the same event.[79] He won the fight by TKO after dropping Manuwa with a knee followed by a flurry of puches in the clinch, in the second round, handing Manuwa the first loss of his career.[80][81] His performance earned him both Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night awards.[82]

Training[edit]

Gustafsson has been training in his native Sweden for the most part of his career, currently at Allstar Training Center in Stockholm which is run by Gustafsson's head coach Andreas Michael,[83] who is a former boxing coach and former amateur boxing coach for the Swedish Olympic team.[84][85] Since his loss to Phil Davis at UFC 112, Gustafsson has also been training part-time with Davis and the others at Alliance MMA in San Diego, California.[86][87] After his title fight against Jon Jones at UFC 165, rumors came out that Gustafsson would leave Alliance to train only in Sweden,[88] but Gustafsson and his team later came out saying that the rumors were false and that he would still mix up his training by spending time at Alliance as well as flying people in from United States to train with him in Sweden for his future fights.[89][90]

Personal life[edit]

Gustafsson and his girlfriend, Amanda, are currently engaged.[91] He also has four sisters.

His nickname, "The Mauler", was given to him early in his career by his training partners, referring to his powerful striking, killer instinct and the reckless ways he finishes his fights.[92]

Gustafsson is a spiritual person, who had a close personal relationship to his pastor Wiggo Carlsson until his death in 2012.[93]

He has often, both before and after his titlefight at UFC 165, been compared to Swedish Heavyweight boxer Ingemar Johansson who won the world title in 1959.[94]

Gustafsson had a troubled youth which led to him ending up in fights often as a teenager, he was convicted for it for the first time when he was 15. As an 18 year old in 2005 he was sentenced to prison for aggravated assault, once again as a result of fighting.[95] He was released in 2006, turned his life around, got back to training, found MMA and moved to another city to leave the trouble behind him.[96] He has said that it was getting involved in MMA that finally changed his life for the better.[97]

His father passed away a few weeks prior to his fight in London against Jimi Manuwa on March 8, 2014. In interviews after the fight he said he wanted to dedicate the victory to him.[98]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Mixed martial arts[edit]

Amateur boxing[edit]

  • Swedish Heavyweight (+91 kg/200 lbs) Amateur Boxing Champion[122]
  • 2009 Tensta Box Open Heavyweight Tournament Winner[123]
  • 2009 KP Cup Boxing Heavyweight Tournament Winner[124]

Submission grappling[edit]

  • Grapplers Paradise 4 −99 kg (−218 lbs) winner[125]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 16–2 Jimi Manuwa TKO (knee & punches) UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa March 8, 2014 2 1:18 London, England Fight of the Night; Performance of the Night
Loss 15–2 Jon Jones Decision (unanimous) UFC 165 September 21, 2013 5 5:00 Toronto, Ontario, Canada For the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship; Fight of the Night; Fight of the Year
Win 15–1 Maurício Rua Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz December 8, 2012 3 5:00 Seattle, Washington, United States
Win 14–1 Thiago Silva Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva April 14, 2012 3 5:00 Stockholm, Sweden
Win 13–1 Vladimir Matyushenko TKO (punches) UFC 141 December 30, 2011 1 2:13 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 12–1 Matt Hamill TKO (punches & elbows) UFC 133 August 6, 2011 2 3:34 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 11–1 James Te-Huna Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC 127 February 27, 2011 1 4:27 Sydney, Australia
Win 10–1 Cyrille Diabaté Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC 120 October 16, 2010 2 2:41 London, England
Loss 9–1 Phil Davis Submission (anaconda choke) UFC 112 April 10, 2010 1 4:55 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Win 9–0 Jared Hamman KO (punches) UFC 105 November 14, 2009 1 0:41 Manchester, England
Win 8–0 Vladimir Shemarov KO (punches) Superior Challenge 3 May 30, 2009 1 2:37 Stockholm, Sweden
Win 7–0 Pedro Quetglas TKO (punches) The Zone FC 3 November 8, 2008 1 2:08 Gothenburg, Sweden
Win 6–0 Krzysztof Kulak Decision (unanimous) KSW: Extra September 13, 2008 2 5:00 Dabrowa Górnicza, Poland
Win 5–0 Matteo Minonzio TKO (punches) The Zone FC 2 May 10, 2008 1 3:52 Gothenburg, Sweden
Win 4–0 Florian Muller TKO (knee to the body) Fite Selektor March 13, 2008 2 3:44 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Win 3–0 Farbod Fadami TKO (punches) The Zone FC 1 February 9, 2008 1 2:31 Stockholm, Sweden
Win 2–0 Mikael Haydari TKO (punches) FinnFight 9 December 15, 2007 1 0:50 Turku, Finland
Win 1–0 Saku Heikola Submission (rear-naked choke) Shooto Finland - Chicago Collision 3 November 17, 2007 2 3:42 Lahti, Finland

References[edit]

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