Alexander Gustafsson's performance against Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night 37 impressed his bosses, and they've rewarded the Swede for his efforts.
According to the UFC on Fox Twitter account, Gustafsson's second-round knockout victory earned him a title shot in his next outing, as he has been promised the winner of April 26's UFC 172 showdown between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira.
Dana White: Gustafsson is the No. 1 contender. He gets Jones or Teixeira next.— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) March 8, 2014
"If Jones wins, we have a nasty rematch," White said at the post-fight press conference. "If [Jones] doesn't, it's [Gustafsson] vs. Teixeira."
This news is not exactly surprising given the nature of Gustafsson's first pass against Jones and his subsequent victory over Manuwa.
In Gustafsson's first attempt at the title at UFC 165, the judges unanimously sided in favor of the champion Jones, but Gustafsson forced him to dig deeper than any previous opponent had, winning at least one round and, in most cases, two rounds, on most scorecards.
After Gustafsson's impressive performance against Manuwa, a title shot just makes sense moving forward.
The light heavyweight division is thin, and Jones has already dismantled a sizable portion of the division's top 10.
Gustafsson was the first person to make the champ look human inside the Octagon, and a rematch is intriguing for fans and critics alike at this point.
While Jones' fight against Teixeira, a 22-2 fighter on a 20-fight winning streak, is no "gimme" bout, the general consensus is that the champion will retain his title, a sentiment which perfectly sets up the rematch against Gustafsson.
To Gustafsson's credit, he's shown his worth at the top of the division against Jones in defeat and, more recently, against Manuwa in victory.
Gustafsson on Jones: I want to fight him and I want to finish him.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 8, 2014
His grappling continues to improve (he was the first person to take Jones down inside the Octagon), and his striking is as violent as ever. He presented a serious challenge for Jones at UFC 165, and a rematch is even juicier given his improvements.
If Jones can take care of Teixeira at UFC 172, who do you see winning Jones vs. Gustafsson II?
Personally, I'm siding with the champion again, but Gustafsson is a scary guy to pick against at this point. It's amazing to me that anybody has emerged as a serious threat to Jones' throne after how brutal the champion looked in seizing and retaining the belt, and Gustafsson's strives are worthy of praise.
Still, Jones is a sensational athlete, strategist and champion, and I think he will snug up his deficiencies and emerge victorious in a rematch against "The Mauler."