Alexander Gustafsson knows what he wants, and what he wants is a shiny, golden belt.
He won't accept anything less.
Gustafsson's manager, Manos Terzitane, recently told Ariel Helwani on an episode of UFC Tonight that the 205-pound Swede is looking for only one fight in his next outing: a title showdown with Jon Jones.
"[Gustafsson] will do whatever he can to not get passed by," Terzitane told UFC Tonight (h/t MMA Fighting). "He will not accept any other fight than to be the next in line for the title against Jones."
While it sounds at first that Gustafsson is being a bit of a diva, his feeling are well-founded and reasonable.
After all, he was originally scheduled to face Jones in September before suffering a minor knee injury and being forced to bow out of the matchup. When that happened, the UFC scrambled for a replacement, striking gold by inking Daniel Cormier in the contender's spot.
From there, Jones and Cormier meshed like a Cleveland Browns fan at Heinz Field, and it was glorious.
They hyped the fight like Gustafsson never could.
Therein lies the problem. Gustafsson was the first, arguably more deserving challenger to Jones' belt. He fought Jones to a close decision at UFC 165 last September, battering the champ like nobody had before or since. This was the rematch people wanted, the fight people wanted to see.
But then Cormier stepped in fresh off an absolute destruction of MMA legend Dan Henderson in May, and he entered the ring spitting fire at "Bones."
Suddenly, Gustafsson didn't seem so appealing, not with this former heavyweight behemoth of a wrestler standing across from Jones.
The hype was perfect and things were hurtling toward what would undoubtedly become one of the most successful pay-per-view cards of the year...and Jones suffered an injury, bumping the fight from September 27 back to January 3.
Now, Gustafsson wants back in, and it's easy to understand why. He was initially removed from the fight because of an injury. He couldn't make the September 27 deadline, so the UFC had to find a substitute.
The conditions have since changed, though. Jones is the one that needs time to heal up, and Gustafsson will be fully ready to roll by January. After Cormier hyped the fight so well, he presents the more exciting choice, but the initial shot was legitimately earned by Gustafsson.
Right now, there is no indication on the UFC's side that it'll swap Cormier out to reinsert Gustafsson, and that's fine too. These three fighters are remarkable talents, and something tells me we'll see them all fight each other in due time anyway.
Would you rather see Cormier or Gustafsson on the January 3 card against Jones?