On December 29, in the main event of UFC 232, Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones will finally meet again — and with the vacant light heavyweight title on the line.
Heading into this high-stakes rematch, there has already been quite a bit of heat between the two fighters, particularly at a recent press conference where Jones actually pushed Gustafsson.
Speaking to MMANytt recently, Gustafsson opened up on this tense moment. He feels it was an indicator of Jones’s insecurity.
“I don’t know where it came from, he just pushed me,” Gustafsson said. “He took a step a front of me, so I took a step in front of him, and then he just pushed me. He doubts himself and he’s very insecure. That’s my feeling, that’s what I felt when he did that. It’s not really like him, doing that stuff.”
Alexander Gustafsson also looked back on his first fight with Jon Jones, which he lost via razor-close decision. He assured that this rematch will turn out much differently.
“I lost that fight, it is what it is,” he said. “It was a big step in my career. Even if I lost that fight, it was a big step in my career. It was the greatest fight of all time in the light heavyweight division and I’m happy to be a part of it. I’ve got a new fight in front of me. I’m here to make a statement, I’m here to beat the man that’s never been beaten. I’m going to take that gold and bring it to Sweden.”
Jon Jones will enter this fight having not fought since July of 2017, when he knocked out Daniel Cormier. Unfortunately, this bout was quickly ruled a no contest when it was announced Jones had failed a drug test. The title was returned to Cormier, and after more than a year of deliberation, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), handed Jones a 15-month suspension. Because this suspension is retroactive to the date of his failed test, he was eligible to compete again at the end of October. He’s 22-1 (1) overall.
Alexander Gustafsson, meanwhile, has not fought since May of 2017, when knocked out Glover Teixeira. With this win, the Swedish contender moved onto a two-fight streak, having also recently bested Jan Blachowicz by decision. Gustafsson is 18-4 overall.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/13/2018.