Once Daniel Cormier made it clear he wasn’t too interested in making his first cut to 205 overseas, most fans and pundits saw a bout between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson coming. After all, considering “The Mauler” and Phil Davis are friends and training partners, and probably wouldn’t fight unless it was for the belt, the UFC didn’t have a lot of options as far as top contenders.
So, although news of Gustafssson-“Lil Nog” wasn’t surprising, a few eyebrows were likely raised when it was announced that it will take place in London on March 8th, and not in Sweden as expected. While speaking about the bout’s location, Gustafsson had this to say about fighting in England’s historic city (comments via MMA Junkie.com):
“London, I’ve fought there before, and it feels like home,” Gustafsson said. “A lot of Swedes are going to come over, and I get good support in London and in England. I’ll fight anywhere.”
Of course, it wasn’t long ago that plenty of folks were hoping to hear that the UFC was going to book a rematch between Gustafsson and Jones, considering the epic war they engaged in at UFC 165. Jones and the UFC elected to tap Glover Teixeira for a title fight next, of course, and now Gustafsson is set to fight Nogueira. Dana White has let it be known, however, that if Gustafsson and Jones win their upcoming bouts, a rematch will get booked.
“That fight is already over, me and Jones,” Gustafsson said. “It ended up how it did, and I let that go now. I have a new opponent to focus on and I’m planning to beat him in London.” “That belt is always on my mind. I will get that belt, and I will fight Jones again. I’m going to take that belt – that’s how it is. But now I can recharge and look forward to another opponent. I just feel super motivated and I’m ready to go.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how Nogueira approaches Gustasfsson, as although “Lil Nog” is a talented pugilist in his own right, he’ll have to deal with “The Mauler’s” reach and length. Considering the wrestling skills Gustafsson showcased versus Jones, you also have to seriously wonder if Nogueira can get the fight to the ground.
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