UFC on Fuel TV 9: Matchmaking for Injured Alexander Gustafsson's Return

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UFC on Fuel TV 9: Matchmaking for Injured Alexander Gustafsson's Return
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Gustafsson lost his spot in the UFC on Fuel TV 9 main event only days before his home country of Sweden will host the fight card. A cut over the light heavyweight's left eye was the culprit for Gustafsson's removal from his bout with former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi.

Despite the loss of Gustafsson, UFC on Fuel TV 9 will go on as planned. Gustafsson's teammate, Ilir Latifi has stepped up to fight Mousasi on short notice and will have a chance to shock the world.

Though Saturday's event will move along without him, questions still remain about what will be next for Gustafsson, who has become one of the top two contenders in the 205-pound division alongside former champion Lyoto Machida.

While the UFC would have to go back on its word once again, a bout between Gustafsson and Machida is now the fight to make to determine the most deserving title challenger in the light heavyweight class.

Machida was promised a title shot with his win over Dan Henderson at UFC 157, but he's also only two fights removed from a submission loss to current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Additionally, Machida's manager has put it out there that the Brazilian does not want to sit and wait too long for the winner of an upcoming title fight between Jones and Chael Sonnen.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With a superfight against middleweight champion Anderson Silva possibly in Jones' future, Machida could be on the shelf for a while should he have to wait for a championship bout against the dominant titleholder. Given that Machida has already lost decisively to the current champion, it wouldn't make much sense to create a logjam in the 205-pound title picture just so Machida can get a second opportunity to beat Jones. 

Instead, Gustafsson should be given an opportunity to prove he is the biggest threat to capture the light heavyweight belt. The only way for him to make a bigger statement than the ones he's already made is for the Swedish light heavyweight to be matched up with Machida.

While the UFC waits for Silva's next title defense against Chris Weidman to determine whether or not the timing is right for Jones to battle the long-reigning middleweight champion, Gustafsson should be booked for a fight with Machida, and that bout could very well serve as the main event on the first ever Fox Sports 1 fight card.

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