Alexander Gustafsson says groin strike hindered him in Jon Jones rematch

Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, UFC 232
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At UFC 232 in late December, Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones stepped into the Octagon for a rematch years in the making. Just as it was in their first fight, which Jones won via controversial decision, the light heavyweight title was on the line in this second chapter.

In the end, this rematch was much less competitive than the original, as Jones dominated Gustafsson to a third-round TKO.

Speaking on The MMA Hour recently, Alexander Gustafsson looked back on this loss, and did not shy away from criticizing his own performance.

“It was a really bad performance that I did, and I just, I wasn’t myself really,” Gustafsson said (via MMA Fighting). “I just went in there and I tried to stick to the gameplan and everything, but no, he just found a way very early to neutralize my game and he put me away strong.

“I just hate to lose, but it’s a sport and Jon is the best guy out there. I don’t know. I think I could’ve done much better, but it is what it is, and I just take it as a man. It’s a sport, and even if I had my third title shot and I lost the third one, I’m still not feeling bad about it or anything like that. Life moves on, I have a family at home, so I’m just [going to] keep doing what I’m doing and take the next fight and the next fight after that, and start from scratch a little bit.”

While Alexander Gustafsson is reluctant to make excuses for this loss, he admits his game plan — and his ability to move — were joggled by a mid-fight groin strike that caused him incredible pain. More pain than he’d ever felt in a fight previously, to be precise.

“I just didn’t perform like I used to,” Gustafsson said. “I didn’t have the footwork going. And I have no excuses, it’s not that. It’s just like, after when he got me with that knee, I couldn’t really find the rhythm again. I just, I couldn’t move like I did before. I just had a lot of pain after that, and I’ve never had that type of pain in my career before in a fight. Of course, you have pain, you get shots from everywhere and you get back, you just keep pushing. But he just stopped me right there, and I tried to move, work it with my footwork, try to kick him or attack, be explosive. But none of that worked. I just couldn’t with my groin.

“So that’s basically it, and he took me down. Nobody can hold me down. Nobody can hold me down. Not DC, not Jon. Nobody. When he took me down there and when he finished me, I couldn’t move because of my groin. He just passed, he just went to half guard and just went up and did the crucifix stuff on me — and nobody does that to me. I wasn’t 100 percent. I just felt that I had so much pain in my groin that I couldn’t really get back into my rhythm again. And with that said, I don’t use this as an excuse or anything like that. He did what he had to do to beat me, and Jon is the best guy out there, so I don’t feel like I’m thinking about that loss nowadays. It is what it is and I just move forward now.”

Alexander Gustafsson will return to the Octagon opposite a fellow Jon Jones victim in Anthony Smith this Saturday in the main event of UFC Stockholm.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/27/2019.

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM