Fighters are meant to fight. It’s their job, it’s what’s expected of them, and when they don’t do it, well, they’re not really fighters, are they? But what happens when you’re the only person who’s even come remotely close to defeating the champ, everyone is clamoring for a rematch, and the UFC instead gives you an ultra-dangerous up-and-comer instead? If you’re tough Swede Alexander Gustafsson, you unflinchingly take the fight.
And when you get brutally TKO’d in dramatic fashion, you wipe away the tears as your title shot against Jon Jones gets flushed down the toilet.
Was it a mistake for Gustafsson to agree to fight Anthony Johnson at UFC on FOX 14 Saturday night? Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, so we can say it was a bad move now – after all, Gustafsson’s rematch with Jones is now put off and replaced with “Rumble” getting a crack. But we’re not privy to the contract specifics and negotiations. We don’t know what the UFC said to convince Gustafsson to take the fight and headline the biggest MMA event in his home country ever (and the second most-attended UFC event ever). We don’t know what was promised. Maybe, to the big Swede, it was worth the risk.
We can only see the outcome. But from that, we can surmise that sometimes – when you’ve got a former welterweight with insane power in his kicks and punches winging bolos at you – sometimes keeping it real goes wrong.