A lot of people have been critical of Jon Jones since news emerged earlier this year that he’d been stripped of his light-heavyweight title again due to another failed drug test, but one of his biggest rivals, Alexander Gustafsson isn’t one of them.
“I wasn’t shocked,” Gustafsson said on The MMA Hour show of his reaction when he first heard that Jones was in trouble again.
“I wasn’t surprised and I feel sorry for him. What can I say? I just feel sorry for him…that he’s got new things coming up all the time. I’m not surprised at all and I just feel sorry for him. It’s bad for everything. It’s bad for the sport.
“Look what he did to DC – he’s a beast. Nobody has done what he’s done and he’s just getting caught over and over again.”
Gustafsson came as close as anyone has to beating Jones back in 2013, when he controversially lost by unanimous decision in an extremely close and hard-fought encounter in Toronto, Canada that was as good as any fight that took place in the octagon that year.
After that a rematch seemed inevitable, but four years later it’s still never materialized, and having campaigned so hard for it, Gustafsson still can’t let go of the desire to have a chance to avenge that loss.
“I want him back. I want another fight with him. I want to fight him at some point in my future career. I just want to fight him one more time and maybe for that reason I want to see him come back.
“But, at the same time, he’s been getting caught a lot of times. If he doesn’t come back, he doesn’t come back. I just feel like it’s sad for the sport and for the whole thing.”
At this stage it’s more likely that Gustafsson will get a chance to fight current champion Daniel Cormier for a second time instead, but though he would gladly take it, It’s not the fight that the Swedish star has his heart set on.
“He has the belt. I want to fight DC for sure. I want that belt, but for me the real champion is Jon Jones of course because he has been destroying everybody in the division. Everything he’s done has not been done before,” stated Gustafsson.
“So, for me, he’s the real champion but I accept DC as a champion too. He’s a good guy and a good fighter and the only person he has lost to is Jon Jones. He’s the real deal and I think he’s champion material.”