As things stand, Alexander Gustafsson would rather settle his business with Jon Jones than run it back with Daniel Cormier.
The two-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger dropped razor-close decisions to Jones and Cormier in his pair of bids to claim the strap at UFC 165 and 192, respectively. While he may be next in line to vie for Cormier’s crown, he told the “JRE MMA Show” that avenging his instant classic with the oft-troubled Jones remains at the top of his docket.
“That guy is such a beast,” Gustafsson said to Joe Rogan on Monday. “It’s so stupid because he’s the best guy, pound-for-pound, out there. He’s done things nobody else has done. He’s just a beast and still, shit just comes up all the time. He doesn’t even need that steroid. He doesn’t need that shit in him. He’s still the best guy out there.
“Fighting him and beating him, that’s bigger than taking the belt right now, that’s how I feel. Look at what he did to DC. And DC is tough. He finished DC. That’s just insane.”
Whether Gustafsson – who gave Jones his toughest test yet – gets his way remains to be seen. Jones is facing an USADA-sanctioned ban of up to four years after testing positive for steroid Turinabol a day prior to his July rematch with Cormier, which he won by third-round knockout but later saw overturned to a no-contest.
Cormier, meanwhile, is expected to challenge heavyweight king Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 on July 7. The light heavyweight champ has maintained he won’t neglect his throne, whatever the outcome of his date with Miocic, but that didn’t keep Gustafsson from calling for an interim title bout in an effort to cement his position as challenger-in-waiting.
“I had my eyes on that gold,” Gustafsson said Monday. “I actually counted on fighting DC, but then it was all gone by him going up to Stipe. It’s a crazy situation. The whole division is crazy right now. We don’t even know if he comes back. Who knows what happens in that fight … DC is a really good heavyweight.”
The 31-year-old Gustafsson hasn’t taken the cage since May of last year, when he scored a fifth-round KO of Glover Teixeira to close out UFC Fight Night 109.