Light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson is willing to fight Lyoto Machida if division champion Jon Jones' injured toe keeps him out until the end of the year.
Jones suffered a ghastly compound fracture to his left big toe in the closing stages of his victory Saturday over Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 in Newark, New Jersey. The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board suspended Jones indefinitely after the event.
"I want to fight for the title and that’s what I want to do. But I’m not going to wait," Gustafsson said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast. "If Jones can’t fight, which I would understand because [the toe injury] looked very nasty…I’ll fight Machida, too…if that’s what the UFC wants, of course, and if Machida wants it, no problem."
The 26-year-old Gustafsson (15-1) was set to face UFC newcomer Gegard Mousasi April 6 in his native Sweden, but Swedish fight officials did not clear him to fight after he suffered a cut over his eye during training. Swede Ilir Latifi stepped in on less than a full week's notice and lost to Mousasi by unanimous decision.
Gustafsson said Monday he is willing to wait as long as September to fight Jones, but he suspects Jones could be out until the end of the year. If that is the case, Gustafsson said he would face Machida, in the interest of staying busy. Gustafsson last fought in December, earning a decision victory over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
"I could fight Jones in September, but if he’s coming back at the end of this year…I can’t wait that long," Gustafsson said. "I need to fight. Let’s see what happens."
Gustafsson also said he had little interest in remaking the match with Mousasi, saying he preferred fights that got him "closer to the belt."