Alexander Gustafsson wants to be the next Chris Weidman.
Weidman stunned the MMA world this past July by knocking out the sport’s all-time best fighter, Anderson Silva, in devastating fashion to become the new UFC middleweight champion.
Gustafsson is looking to re-create that magic this Saturday night at UFC 165 against the dominant reigning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
“Oh yeah. It’s my time. I’m going to shock the world,” Gustafsson said.
There wasn’t the slightest hint of doubt, insecurity, or respect for the Jones aura when Gustafsson spoke at the UFC’s media day for Saturday night’s card.
The 26-year-old Sweede is dialed in and ready to go.
“I’m confident because of my hard work,” Gustafsson said. “I’ve been turning over every stone for this camp.
“No shortcuts. Nothing. I’ve done my homework and am ready.”
For his training camp, Gustafsson (15-1) uprooted himself from his native Sweden to prepare at the elite Alliance MMA gym in San Diego, California alongside fellow top light-heavyweight contender Phil Davis.
“I’ve been away from home for 11 weeks. I haven’t seen my friends, my family. I’ve isolated myself and the only thing that’s been on my mind is winning that belt.“
Much of the marketing behind the matchup has surrounded height and reach. While Gustafsson acknowledges Jones’ vaunted reach and ability to control distance, he thinks that it’s overstated.
“He is most dangerous when he controls the distance. I think it’s important to not let him have his distance,” Gustafsson said. “But I think the difference it’s going to who has worked the hardest.”
Despite Gustafsson being a former Swedish amateur boxing champion, Jones has been very dismissive of his striking skills and has indicated that he would like to stand and trade in the fight as opposed to take it to the mat, a proposition that “The Mauler” welcomes.
“I hope he’ll stand with me and strike with me,” Gustafsson said. “That would be just great for me. But that won’t happen. With Jones, you never know what you have.”
While Jones has been near perfect in his career so far, but the only times he has ever looked vulnerable was the first round of his previous two trips to Toronto against Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort. Will Gustafsson look to be aggressive from the opening bell?
“I don’t want to talk too much about my game plan, but I will say that I believe it’s important for me to take the initiative (in this fight).”
Weidman is defending his newly won belt in a rematch with Anderson Silva, so does Gustafsson expect to have to do the same, should the upset happen?
“Of course. Every champ has a right to a rematch, in my mind.”
UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson goes down this Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre and airs live on pay per view at 10 PM ET