It’s fair to say it wasn’t a great night for Swedish MMA at UFC Fight Night 53 in Stockholm this past Saturday night with all three of their main card fighters suffering first round losses, while in total they went 1-4 for the event as a whole.
The Swedish fans voiced their frustration and anger at the way things had worked out, with many in the arena initially booing the winners of the fights, while later some turned on their own fighters, putting them on blast with harsh criticism regarding their performances.
So much so in fact that national hero Alexander Gustafsson felt the need to speak up about it in a lengthy post on his http://getmikz.com/mauler account directed at his fellow Swedes.
“Thank you UFC for visiting Sweden yesterday and giving us a great event.
I am reading the news and the comments from our fans with mixed feelings today. If you are a fan of this sport you should know what kind of preparations we go through in the camps. It’s nothing but hard training 2-3 time a day and a weight cut for 8-10 weeks where the fighters eat less during a whole day than a normal person do for just lunch.
It’s an enormous pressure with media and PR and then coming into a cage in front of millions of people on TV and thousands of people in the stadium and face someone that wants to knock you out.
You have to be a fighter or a top athlete to be able to understand all we go through and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but we ALWAYS do our best.
And then having your own fans criticizing you after a loss with stupid comments and saying that you suck about your performance when 99% of them have no experience of the sport in real life, that’s not the way to support your fighters.
No misunderstanding, we love the support we get from all of you, but we cannot become the worst fighters in the world after a loss when we the fight before were the best fighters in the world.
We had a bad night last evening, but my team mates are still the worlds best mma fighters. I train with Ilir Latifi, I know he is a beast, I know how hard he prepared himself for this fight, but last night was not his night and he will come out of this much stronger. Niklas Bäckström, all of you fans have said he is the next star of Swedish MMA, I agree, he is a supertalent. Now I read everywhere that he is weak, he has no jaw and other stupid things. He got hit by a overhand and got knocked out, could happen to anyone. Tor Troéng is an experienced and a smart fighter, he fought well and sometimes it is just not your night, someone just for that night is better than you. Magnus “Jycken” Cedenblad, what a great fight, he really showed his heart last night and came back from the 2nd round in a really impressive win. Well done my friend.
Another thing is all the talk about Allstars Training Center and our coaches and the criticism they have received. Let me tell you this, I have been around in a few gyms around the world in my career, and getting better training than we all get at Allstars is hard to find. We have the best coaches you can have and that’s one of the reasons we have fighters coming from all countries in the world to train with us and be a part of the Allstar family.
To sum up this message, you can have good nights like we have had for the past years, and then you can have a bad night like we had last night. The good nights don’t make us world champions and the bad nights don’t make us completely useless and all of us overrated. I would like you all instead, if you are a fan of the sport to support us in the good times and in the bad times and if you want to criticize us, give us constructive critics.
We will come back stronger than ever after this, that is what I can guarantee you all.”
Saturday evening was definitely a blow for Swedish MMA and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from this, and whether the UFC will be back again in 2015 after making an annual trip there for the past three years running.
Coincidentally, a lot will depend on Gustafsson himself. He was the catalyst for the UFC to visit the country in the first place and helped deliver a surge of interest in the sport there, and today he remains Sweden’s best known and most successful fighter.
As long as he continues to be successful then Sweden will remain on the MMA map. ‘The Mauler’ has some major tests ahead of him though, with the tantalizing prospect of a rematch with Jon Jones cruelly lying just out of reach at the moment.
A fight with Anthony Johnson had to be shelved recently and the talk now is that former champion Rashad Evans could now be his next opponent.