On Friday, December 30th, Alexander Gustafsson (12-1) will enter the Octagon to take on the highly experienced, Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5) in a light heavyweight showdown at UFC 141.
UFC 141 will air live from the sold out MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada beginning at 7:00 p.m. PT and 10:00 p.m. ET.
In a recent interview with Bleacher Report's Garrett Derr, Gustafsson discussed his upcoming bout with Matyushenko and his future in the UFC. However, before Gustafsson began to share about his main card bout at UFC 141, he discussed how proud he is to represent the country of Sweden.
"It's a dream come true. Having the opportunity to represent the country of Sweden is one of the most important things for me as a fighter", said Gustafsson. "I am very proud of being a Swede."
Gustafsson will once again look to make his country proud when he squares off with Matyushenko in just a few short hours. However, many fans were surprised "The Mauler" was given the matchup with Matyushenko as he's been nearly flawless since joining the UFC in late 2009.
But, Gustafsson wasn't the slightest bit surprised as he looks forward to facing "The Janitor", a man he respects greatly.
"I wasn't surprised at all. Vladimir is a great fighter and one of the best in the world as he'll be a big test for me. He is a big name and has fought against all the best fighters", stated Gustafsson. "I was supposed to fight against him at UFC 133 before he got injured so my coaches have spent a lot of time studying him and we have prepared for him most of the 2011."
"Fans shouldn't forget that it wasn’t too long ago when he fought against Jon Jones. Jones fought him and then Bader and after that he got a title fight so in my mind this means that I am getting closer and closer to my dream."
With as much respect as Gustafsson has for Matyushenko heading into their highly anticipated 205-pound matchup, he feels he's the more well-rounded fighter which will ultimately allow him to reign supreme once again.
"I feel that I have a lot of advantages heading into our fight. My height and reach is something most fighters don't have. Also, my youth, endurance and footwork will allow me to control the fight. I believe that I am the stronger fighter and have excellent take-down defense. I am a receipt for Matyushenko's fall", stated Gustafsson.
Many already consider the 24-year old Gustafsson to be in the top 10 of the light heavyweight division. A win over Matyushenko will only continue to boost Gustafsson up the 205-pound ladder towards his much desired title shot.
However, Gustafsson isn't focused on what the future may hold as he's determined to take one step at a time as he knows a title shot will come at just the right time.
"I always try and take one fight at a time. My goal is to beat everyone I fight. I develop for every fight and I am very motivated", stated Gustafsson. "I don’t know when my time will come, but I know that I will be there very soon."
When the day does come that Gustafsson receives his title shot, he'll be more than ready. Every fight is a stepping stone for Gustafsson as he desires to be the future of the light heavyweight division.
"I want to keep winning so that I can get the belt and retire with it. I want to end my career in the UFC as the UFC champion", said Gustafsson. "I see myself as the future of the light heavyweight division."
While Gustafsson has accomplished many things over the course of his young career, he's quick to turn the attention away from himself. The 24-year old knockout artist is grateful for those who've helped him along the way.
"There have been so many people to help me get where I am today. My head coach Andreas Michael and Eric Delfiero, Nexus Fighter Center and Alliance Training Center and all the guys there and back home in Sweden. My manager Manos Terzitane and all my sponsors", stated Gustafsson. "But, most importantly, my family and friends."
To learn more about Alexander Gustafsson, follow him on Twitter.
For additional information, follow Garrett Derr on Twitter.