Alexander Gustafsson has been through the wringer these past few years in the UFC, and after falling just short of winning a title on two occasions now, it’s left the 29 year-old Swedish fighter struggling to get motivated in 2016.
“I’m just feeling like I have a tough time with my motivation,” Gustafsson confessed on The MMA Hour show this week. “It goes from time to time. Some days it’s better, some days it’s a little bit worse.”
It seems this has been an ongoing problem for Gustafsson since his narrow decision loss to the light-heavyweight champion at the time, Jon Jones – a fight some believed that he had done enough to win.
The fact that everyone, including Gustafsson himself, was calling for an immediate rematch that never materialized didn’t help, and he says that his motivation has been gradually fading since that point.
“It’s been getting worse, that I’m losing that happiness in training, that motivation,” Gustafsson said. “If you just train because you have to train, it’s not the right reasons. It’s not always shine and good feelings in training. But when it comes down to it you need to have that happiness and motivation in training.”
The fact that he’d go on to be TKO’d by Anthony Johnson in front of 30,000 of his own fans in Stockholm, Sweden certainly wouldn’t have helped, and indeed afterwards he admitted to briefly considering the possibilty of retirement.
Then a title shot against Daniel Cormier last year led to renewed hope, only to be dealt another hammer blow by again coming out on the wrong end of a judges decision after five extremely close and hard fought rounds.
However, while Gustafsson is clearly down, he’s not yet out as ‘The Mauler’ has vowed to return to the Octagon later this year after doing some soul searching.
“It’s hard to just go one day from another to being one of the best fighters in the world to just stop doing what you love to do,” Gustafsson said. “I am a fighter and it’s what I do, what I live for. Quitting is actually not an option if you put the cards on the table. It’s just emotions, feelings. It’s what you have to battle every day as an athlete.”