Sometimes fighters can go from the highest highs to the lowest lows almost in the blink of an eye as Alexander Gustafsson can testify.
Heading into UFC On FOX 14 in January things were very going well for the 28 year-old. Some believed he’d done enough to beat current champion Jon Jones when they met back in September of 2013 which had helped make him one of the division’s most popular and respected fighters.
As a result he’d since appeared on the front cover of the EA Sports UFC video game, he was a national hero in his native Sweden and here he was about to headline a stadium show in his home town against Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson with a blockbuster rematch for the belt guaranteed if he emerged victorious.
The stage was set for Gustafsson to experience a magic moment in his career, but of course as we now know things didn’t go according to plan at all in Stockholm for ‘The Mauler’ with Johnson almost effortlessly brushing aside the man who’d won seven of his last eight fights in the Octagon.
In all it took just 2 minutes and 15 seconds for ‘Rumble’ to completely demolish Gustafsson, and while the Swedish star was dignified in defeat, looking back several months later he now admits that he almost lost the will to fight again after that night.
“It has definitely been my most difficult period in life so far,” Gustafsson stated in an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen. “I was completely serious about quitting MMA. I don’t care really about the title, it was that it happened in front of my home crowd. My cousins were in place. It just took it too hard. I didn’t have the will to continue. I was really close to quitting. But I have received so much love from fans, loved ones and my team.”
Now Gustafsson is ready to get back on the saddle and he’s set to face Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night 69 in Germany on June 20th which he’s hoping will enable him to put the past behind him and make a fresh start.
“I had to bite the sour apple and now I have a new fight that made me very motivated,” said Gustafsson. “If I had not wanted to do this anymore, I would have stopped. But I want to continue. There is no doubt about it. No one is forcing me. I’m not doing this for money, but to be the best in the world.”