Two former UFC light heavyweight title challengers will go head-to-head in the main event at UFC Stockholm on June 1, when Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson will fight Anthony Smith.
“The Mauler” spoke to Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour about his matchup against Smith and made it known that if he doesn’t come out with a victory then he will be re-considering his future in fighting.
For Gustafsson, fighting a veteran like Smith certainly presents challenges, and he won’t take him lightly heading into their matchup.
“He’s a big hitter and he has a lot of heart and he has a lot of fights behind him,” Gustafsson said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “He’s a guy with a good team behind him, and this is going to be a real challenge. And that’s why I’m doing this, to challenge myself. When I beat him, I’m going to just move in the rankings. If I don’t beat him, if he beats me, then maybe I don’t have it anymore. So I’ll just take it from there.”
Seeing how both Gustafsson and Smith share the same last opponent in Jon Jones, Gustafsson says he understands that both he and his upcoming opponent share a similar desire to get back on track following their respective losses to the current champion.
“He’s in shape and he feels like I feel,” he said. “Like, he just lost and he wants to prove that he’s better than what he showed, and he just wants to get back to fighting and winning again. So I think he’s in shape and I think he’s ready for this, and he’s ready to fight me and he wants to beat me, so I understand him perfectly.”
As they prepare to face each other in the Octagon, Alexander Gustafsson said he won’t judge Anthony Smith based off his performance against Jones, and he’s excited to put on a show in front of his home country.
“I’m not the right guy to judge him,” he said. “I just fought Jon and lost myself. He showed some heart and he took some damage and just kept moving so he’s a warrior and I can’t wait to have him over and give the fans a really good show.”
Both Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Smith will be looking to bounce back from losses to Jon Jones, but as far as it goes for “The Mauler”, this fight against Smith seems to be a must-win for the future of his career.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/12/2019.