Three-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger and Swedish star Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson is coming out of retirement, according to a report by MMA Junkie. The outlet verified with a source that The Mauler is not only making the walk to the Octagon again, but he will also be moving up a weight class.
Gustafsson has fought 16 times in the UFC, and each time the match has been at light heavyweight. Next time he fights, it’ll be at heavyweight, MMA Junkie reported. The Mauler is in talks to fight former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum.
The fight is in the works to take place on the promotion’s “Fight Island” on July 25. The UFC has not officially confirmed the matchup. Two other fights have been linked to the July 25 card, Darren Till vs. former UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
The last time The Mauler stepped into the Octagon was one June 1, 2019, when he fought Anthony Smith during UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Smith. Gustafsson lost that fight by fourth-round TKO.
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Gustafsson Has Been an Elite Light Heavyweight Fighter for Years
Gustafsson is 18-6 in a professional mixed martial arts career that has spanned almost 13 years. He made his UFC debut on November 14, 2009, when he fought Jared Hamman at UFC 105. The Mauler won the match by knockout in only 41 seconds into the first round.
He lost his next fight to Phil Davis, but Gustafsson then went on a six-fight win streak, defeating the likes of Shogun, Thiago Silva and Matt Hamill. The streak earned him a shot at Jon “Bones” Jones’ light heavyweight title. The two fought on September 21, 2013, at UFC 165.
Their bout was one of the greatest title fights in UFC history, and Gustafsson became the first man to nearly dethrone Bones. But as history has it, Gustafsson lost the fight by unanimous decision. The Mauler went on to fight for the light heavyweight strap two more times in seven fights.
He fought Daniel Cormier for the championship at UFC 192 on October 3, 2015, but he lost the bout by split decision. The Mauler got his third chance to win UFC light heavyweight gold on December 29, 2018, when he rematched Jones. Gustafsson lost that fight by third-round TKO.
Gustaffson’s Potential Opponent, Werdum, Is a Former Heavyweight Champion
If The Mauler takes on Fabricio Werdum, it will be a tall task. The 42-year-old Brazilian fighter has a pro record of 23-9-1 and has wins over some of the greatest heavyweights in UFC history, including Cain Velasquez, Mark Hunt and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Werdum won the interim UFC heavyweight strap on November 15, 2004, when he knocked out Hunt with a flying knee at UFC 180. He unified the title on June 13, 2005, at UFC 188 when he submitted Velasquez.
The Brazilian lost the title in his first official defense when he was knocked out by Stipe Miocic on May 14, 2016, at UFC 198. Werdum has gone 3-3 since that fight. The last time he stepped into the Octagon was on May 9 when he dropped a split decision to Aleksei Oleinik at UFC 249.