Alexander Gustafsson Wins Contest, Joins Jon Jones on Cover of EA UFC

Duane FinleyContributor IDecember 13, 2013

Dec 8, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; Alexander Gustafsson fights Mauricio Rua (not pictured) during their light heavyweight bout at MMA on FOX 5 at Key Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The votes are in—11 million of them in fact—and Alexander Gustafsson will join light heavyweight champion Jon Jones on the cover of the EA UFC video game, according to EA Sports' official website. 

The UFC and Electronic Arts linked up with Metro PCS to unveil the result of the UFC Cover Vote contest, which allowed fans to choose who would be featured alongside the pound-for-pound great on the cover of their first installment of the video-game franchise. Sixteen fighters were selected to participate, and once they were paired off in a tournament-style bracket, fans picked head-to-head winners.

A year ago, Gustafsson was somewhat of an unknown commodity in the UFC fold, but the Swedish striker has rapidly risen to international recognition as of late.

This is due in large part to his epic, "Fight of the Year"-worthy battle with Jones when the two light heavyweights traded leather for five memorable rounds at UFC 165 back in September. While Jones took the victory on the judges' scorecards, "The Mauler" has been vocal about earning another shot at championship gold.

While he will have to earn at least one more victory to get there, winning the contest is certainly a testament to his elevated status, as he edged out long-reigning welterweight king Georges St-Pierre to take the honors.

The final week of voting saw *40 percent of the traffic come from Europe, with Gustafsson's home country certainly playing a significant role in the matter.

The UFC has a star in the making on its hands in the 26-year-old Swede, and he wants to make the most of the opportunities he receives.

"It feels amazing and this is unreal to me. I'm very happy that the fans chose me and it means a lot . This is huge for me. Hearing those numbers about the support I received from Sweden is so amazing," Gustafsson told Bleacher Report. "Having all those fans vote for me is unbelievable and I'm just a super-happy guy right now. It means a lot to me as a person and as a fighter. Having all that support means everything to me.

"A lot of things have happened in my career after that fight. To have the support from all the fans and to win the cover vote is just massive. I'm really happy in the situation I'm in right now. I feel very comfortable and I'm very excited for the future. I'm getting ready now for my next bout on March 8 in London and I'm training harder every day."

When asked if his placement on the cover of EA UFC will keep him on the champion's mind, Gustafsson agreed and plans to use it as motivation himself.

"Oh for sure. It's the same for me as well. Just looking at the cover is going to make me train even harder. I'm really excited and I'm working hard to get that rematch. All of my focus is on Jimi Manuwa, but I'm going to win that fight, and I'm really hoping for another title shot," Gustafsson said.

December 13, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones (right) is interviewed on stage for the announcement of the EA Sports UFC video game cover winner before the official weigh-in for UFC on FOX 9 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit:
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Where the rangy striker's place on the cover came as a result of fan voting, Jones was preselected to represent the company on EA's first endeavor. "Bones" is undoubtedly one of the most dominant champions in the history of the UFC, and his impressive reign atop the 205-pound division has led to him being heralded as the future of mixed martial arts.

The 26-year-old earned his sixth successful title defense by defeating Gustafsson in Toronto and will be looking to extend that streak when he faces Brazilian powerhouse Glover Teixeira early next year at UFC 172. While the New York native is certainly familiar with high-profile campaigns like Nike and Gatorade, the honor of being one of the first cover athletes for EA UFC is certainly something he appreciates.

"I'm so excited," Jones said. "It's such a huge honor to be in line with a company like EA Sports. It's every kid's dream. I grew up playing EA games—Madden and things like that. It's just unbelievable and it's still kind of surreal to me right now.

"It's motivation for me to continue working hard. People are noticing and it feels great. This opportunity is just as big as being sponsored by Nike or Gatorade in my opinion. EA Sports is a huge company, with a great name and it's an honor to be involved with them. It's a huge feather in my cap and I'm really proud of it.

"Him on my mind?" Jones replied in response to Gustafsson's comments. "That's so funny. He's right [laughs]. I'm sick of seeing his face, but we gotta do what we gotta do I guess."


*Number confirmed by host site for UFC Cover Vote.

Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.