Alexander Gustafsson suffered his own type of pain when news broke that Jon Jones was forced off of the UFC 178 card due to injury, according to a report by Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting.
The UFC has rescheduled the fight between Jones and Daniel Cormier for UFC 182, which is set for January 3, 2015. While that fight has excited fans in recent weeks, Gustafsson, who is ranked No. 1 in the light heavyweight division by the UFC, has been left "out in the cold," according to John Joe O'Regan of Sherdog. In response, Gustafsson's camp has come out to state their disgust with the current situation, and they should continue the verbal assault.
Gustafsson and his team did not wait to come out against the fight between Cormier and Jones being rebooked rather than the Swede being given his title shot back.
“We are not happy,” Andreas Michael, Gustafsson's head trainer told O'Regan. “Alex is the number one contender; he got injured and the UFC went to Plan B. Now if that fight is not happening, of course Alex and Jones should be right back.”
This is a very valid point for this team to make. Gustafsson and Jones put on one of the best fights in 2013 at UFC 165. When Jones successfully defended his title against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, UFC President Dana White confirmed that Gustafsson would be next for the champion, via Sherdog.
Unfortunately, the challenger would suffer a knee injury before being able to get into the cage in September. That allowed for Daniel Cormier to receive his crack at the title.
The promotional train would race off as Cormier and Jones would brawl during press events and argue during interviews on major sports networks. The MMA community became enthralled with this matchup nearly two months before the two men would enter the Octagon. This created the perfect atmosphere for the promotion to rebook this fight rather than give Gustafsson back the title shot he earned.
To make the situation even worse for Gustafsson, it looks like he will not be allowed to wait on the sidelines until his turn against the champion is planned.
“Gustafsson will probably fight again. We'll probably do another fight for him,” White said to Matt Parrino of UFC.com. “He'll probably fight again to stay active, stay top of mind and the guy has to make money.”
The same report makes mention of Anthony Johnson as a potential opponent, which would be a very dangerous fight for Gustafsson to take. However, Gustafsson should continue his campaign against the Cormier and Jones matchup because his actions may pay off in the long run.
If Gustafsson is mandated to fight Johnson, he should work with the promotion to have the fight booked as the co-main event for UFC 182. The injury bug has already struck the light heavyweight title picture twice, so this type of booking would protect the changing of the fight for a third time. Instead, the UFC would have the opportunity to move Gustafsson into the main event to face either Jones or Cormier.
Even if Gustafsson is unable to convince UFC executives to make this fight a featured bout for UFC 182, he should continue his diatribe against the organization and the two men. Talking about the situation in public will keep him in the headlines and a prominent figure in the weight class. That is the exact type of momentum needed to force his way back into the title scene.
Alexander Gustafsson may not have the spot that he wants in the main event of UFC 182, but he shouldn't stop his campaign against the two competitors. If injury strikes again, the Swedish fighter can find himself back in just as quickly he found himself out of title talks.
An individual’s ability to promote himself is a growing skill set within the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and this is Gustafsson's opportunity to show just how well he's learned it.