UFC 165: Alexander Gustafsson 'I'm Not Leaving the Cage Without That Belt'
The pound-for-pound great will put his streak of five consecutive title defenses on the line when he faces the surging Swedish contender on Sept. 21 in Toronto and needs one more victory to break the long-standing record held by Tito Ortiz.
While Jones has his eyes on making history, "The Mauler" doesn't see a new record being set at the Air Canada Centre next Saturday night.
In fact, the 26-year-old Team Alliance fighter believes the only "new" element that will come out of the main event tilt will be the marking of the next 205-pound champion.
Gustafsson is brimming with confidence as the title showdown approaches—and with good reason.
The Stockholm-based fighter has won six consecutive outings inside the Octagon, and found success in seven of his eight showings since joining the UFC roster in 2009.
His most recent victory came over former light heavyweight champion and certified MMA legend Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC on Fox 5 last December, and now his sights are locked on the man who currently holds the coveted 205-pound strap.
Nevertheless, despite Gustafsson's accomplishments, he will step into the Octagon next Saturday night as the underdog, and that's perfectly fine with him.
He has watched as the media talks about what will be next for Jones and whether Glover Teixeira or heavyweight Daniel Cormier will make the more legitimate challenge. He knows he's being written off before he steps foot into the cage, but Gustafsson refuses to let these matters break his focus because public opinion isn't something he allows to weigh heavily on his mind.
That being said, he does believe Jones has put stock into the thought he won't be facing much of a challenge at UFC 165, and feels it is a good thing. As a matter of fact "perfect" to use his words.
While the No. 1 contender appreciates the confidence the reigning champion carries, Gustafsson has a surplus of his own to offer in that department.
"He is just another guy I'm fighting...that's it," Gustafsson told Bleacher Report. "My confidence comes with all the hard training. I've been working so hard, working from every position and situation; it doesn't matter what Jon brings to the table because I'll have an answer for it. I can't wait to show the world."
With the biggest opportunity of his career looming just around the corner, Gustafsson is more prepared than he's ever been.
He has every intention of making the most out of the moment. He sees his upcoming championship opportunity as the culmination of the hard work he's invested to become one of the top light heavyweights on the planet.
Now, the next step will be to dethrone the reigning king of his division, and Gustafsson has his sights locked on doing what 19 other men who've stepped in against Jones before him could not.
"This fight means everything to me," Gustafsson said. "This what I've hoped for all this time. I don't feel pressure or anything like that. I'm so excited and I've never trained this hard in my life. I'm feeling great and I'm so ready. He's never faced a fighter with my style and I'm not leaving the cage without that belt."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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